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Skidmore College

World premiere featuring father, daughter soloists to highlight orchestra program

April 22, 2014
James Emery and Hannah Emery ’14
James and Hannah Emery (Photo by Federico Moretto)

The final concert of the academic year by the Skidmore College Orchestra will feature a distinctive musical moment: the world premier of a composition written by internationally acclaimed guitarist James Emery for his daughter Hannah and featuring the two of them as soloists.

They will make their public debut playing together in an orchestral setting at the concert, which is scheduled at 3 p.m. Sunday, April 27, in the Arthur Zankel Music Center on the Skidmore campus. The Emerys’ performance of Double Concerto for Guitar, Clarinet, and Orchestra will feature James Emery on guitar, and Hannah Emery, a Skidmore senior, on clarinet. While there has been the occasional, exceedingly rare concerto performance by a father-daughter duo, this is thought to be the first instance in which the parent is also the composer of the work.

James Emery wrote the piece for his daughter. He explained, “What sets the Double Concerto apart from my other large-scale works is I can play alongside her supported by an orchestra of her peers and friends, led by one of her teachers, Anthony Holland, associate professor of composition and conductor of the Skidmore College Orchestra.”

Hannah Emery entered Skidmore as a Filene music scholar in 2010 and completed her junior year in Paris, studying clarinet at La Schola Cantorum.

The Double Concerto, Emery’s third piece for orchestra, was commissioned by Skidmore’s Music Department. He said, “The Double Concerto is my most ambitious piece yet for orchestra and my first professional acknowledgement of my daughter’s artistry and musical abilities.”

James Emery has been active at the forefront of the international jazz and contemporary music scenes since 1975. He has written more than 100 compositions ranging from solo guitar and chamber music to symphonic pieces.  He has performed his works in over 25 countries, recorded more than two dozen CDs as a leader or co-leader, and co-founded the String Trio of New York, which celebrated its 35th anniversary in 2012.  The ensemble has been featured on National Public Radio's Weekend Edition and Public Radio International's Concerts from the Library of Congress.

Known for his distinctive sound and touch as an improviser and composer, Emery is the recipient of a Guggenheim Fellowship for music composition and has performed at many of the major international jazz festivals and as a soloist in many of the world’s major concert halls, from Great Performers at Lincoln Center, Espace Cardin in Paris and London’s Royal Festival Hall to Tokyo’s Bunkamura Music Hall, Philharmonic Hall in Berlin and the Konzerthaus in Vienna. As a sideman, he has performed and recorded with such luminaries as Anthony Braxton, Steve Reich, Joe Lovano, Henry Threadgill, John Zorn, and Muhal Richard Abrams, among other leading artists.

The April 27 program also will include a performance of the orchestral masterpiece by Mussorgsky/Ravel, “Pictures at an Exhibition,” and Prelude "49th Parallel" by Vaughan Williams. The concert is made possible, in part, with support from the New York State Council on the Arts.

Tickets for the concert are $8 for adults, $5 for senior citizens/Skidmore community, and free for students and children. For advance reservations please click  here or call the Zankel box office (518) 580-5321 for more information. Skidmore’s Arthur Zankel Music Center is wheelchair accessible and offers listening devices for the hearing impaired. 

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