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Elliot Carter

Elliot Carter will receive an honorary degree from the U on March 9.

Partnership produces festival

The Saint Paul Chamber Orchestra and U's School of Music present inaugural

March 7, 2006

At 97, Elliot Carter is very much alive and very much composing. The musician has won two Pulitzer Prizes in music and is widely regarded as one of the greatest American composers. His music is mercurial in its range, rate of mood, and textural change. Musicians love him because he is capable of wit and whimsy, qualities that have become more and more evident over the years.

On Thursday, March 9, Carter will receive an honorary degree from the University of Minnesota. The ceremony falls in the midst of the 2006 Contemporary Composers Festival that runs March 7 through March 12. This year's festival, which celebrates Carter's life and work, is the first of what the St. Paul Chamber Orchestra (SPCO) and the University of Minnesota School of Music plan on being a biennial event.

The weeklong event will offer six concerts, a documentary film, a roundtable discussion, and a symposium featuring renowned scholars of Carter's work. For a complete schedule of events, visit the School of Music.

"Elliott Carter has truly transformed our sense of instrumental and vocal possibilities," says Bruce Coppock, SPCO president and managing director. "His ear for fresh musical ideas and gestures, and consummate skill in giving voice to them through distinctive and imaginative use of instrumentation, has literally altered the musical landscape. I have no doubt that 100 years from now, people will look back on Carter's musical contributions as being seminal to the development of music, in ways similar to those we readily remark upon today about the works of Beethoven and Schoenberg."

Concert tips

For those unfamiliar with Carter, SPCO's president and managing director Bruce Coppock recommends: Wednesday's concert ("we're playing an Ives quartet that influenced him greatly, then Carter's second and fifth string quartets, which span this extraordinary period between the late '40s and the '90s)," Thursday's concert (includes one of Carter's signature pieces, the Variations for Orchestra from the '50s), and Friday's concert ("[we'll play] his Cello Sonata from 1948. It is, without question, the great 20th-century cello sonata, in which he was just beginning to separate from the world of Copland and create his own world.)

Excerpted from Bruce Coppock's March 5 interview with the Pioneer Press.

Musicians from the SPCO and U's music school, along with special guest artists--including the Daedalus Quartet, pianist Ursula Oppens, and conductor Scott Yoo--will appear in six performances in both St. Paul and Minneapolis. The free concerts will highlight Carter's string quartets and music for orchestra and chorus, as well as solo and chamber music pieces spanning his nearly six-decade career.

Performances take place in the Huss Music Room at the SPCO Center located at 408 Saint Peter St. in downtown St. Paul and at the Ted Mann Concert Hall on the Twin Cities campus in Minneapolis (2128 4th Street South).

Although the concerts are free and open to the public, tickets are required and are available by calling the SPCO ticket office at 651-291-1144 or visiting the SPCO.