“AVNER DORMAN’S music works its magic by melding far-flung influences and making them sound natural together. Depending on the score, an inviting neo-Romantic fabric may bear touches of modernist acerbity; vigorous, complex rhythms; themes built on Middle Eastern and Indian modes; Baroque figuration; or the accents of pop and jazz. Extramusical notions often animate the music as well.” The New York Times
“A rising young composer from the U.S., Europe or even the Far East isn’t necessarily a newsmaker. But how about a hot new composer from Israel? That’s a rare occurrence sure to raise eyebrows among the classical cognoscenti… Avner Dorman, 33, knows that as one of the few Israeli-born writers to break into the classical major leagues, he often has to act as a national flag bearer, especially in the eyes of the category-happy media. But it’s a role he has grown used to — and has even learned to welcome.” The Los Angeles Times
“A fresh, young voice, worth following.” Gramophone
Avner Dorman’s music “works its magic by melding far-flung influences and making them sound natural together,” wrote Allan Kozinn in a feature article in The New York Times in April, 2011. The Israeli-born composer has quickly risen to become one of the leading composers of his generation. Also a rising conductor, Dorman was recently named music director of CityMusic Clevland, and will bring his composer’s deep musical understanding and perspective to the podium this season.
Dorman’s unique approach to rhythm and timbre has attracted some of the world’s most notable conductors, including Zubin Mehta, Christoph Eschenbach, Riccardo Chailly, David Robertson, Andris Nelsons, Marin Alsop, and Justin Brown, to bring his music to audiences of the New York Philharmonic, the Israel Philharmonic, Carnegie Hall, the San Francisco Symphony, the Musikverein, the Gewandaus Orchestra, the Los Angeles Philharmonic, the Tokyo NHK Symphony, Salzburg Festival, Lucerne Festival, Cabrillo Music Festival, and many others.
Dorman’s music achieves a rare combination of rigorous compositional construction while preserving the sense of excitement and spontaneity usually associated with Jazz, Rock, or Ethnic Music. His music is championed, toured and recorded by some of today’s finest soloists. In addition to Nigunim, commissioned by Orli and Gil Shaham and the 92nd Street Y and released on the Canary Classics label, Dorman’s Memory Games, a violin solo written for Hilary Hahn as part of her Encores Project, is an audience favorite. Avi Avital’s performance of Dorman’s Mandolin Concerto on the Naxos CD dedicated to Dorman’s Chamber Concerti was nominated for a Grammy Award. Martin Grubinger’s signature performance of Dorman’s percussion concerto Frozen in Time continues to amaze international audiences and was televised in Japan by NHK and in Germany by Frankfurt HR Sinfonieorchester. Three Butterfly Songs, recorded by Dawn Upshaw and Bridget Kibbey for soprano and harp, is scheduled to be released in 2013.
A prolific composer, recent works include Letters from Gettysburg, a choral work commemorating the 150th anniversary of the battle of Gettysburg, which premiered in April, 2013, and has since been programmed on KUSC, WWFM, and WETA. Dorman’s Cello Concerto, composed for cellist Inbal Segev, debuted at the Anchorage Symphony and received its South American premiere in July 2013. Uzu and Muzu, for narrator, percussion duo and orchestra, was premiered in Stockton, California in 2012 by Peter Jaffe and the Stockton Symphony, and highlighted on National Public Radio’s All Things Considered. Based on an Israeli children’s story by Ephraim Sidon, Uzu and Muzu was written for listeners 3-103 and was composed when Dorman was Stockton’s composer in residence for the symphony’s 85th Anniversary season. In the 2010-2011 season alone, Dorman premiered four new orchestral pieces, Uriah (commissioned by the San Francisco Symphony), Azerbaijani Dance (given its New York premiere at Carnegie Hall by Zubin Mehta and the Israel Philharmonic), Astrolatry (given its New York premiere at Carnegie Hall by Justin Brown and the Alabama Symphony Orchestra) and (not) The Shadow (a Meet The Composer commission with three American and Canadian orchestras).
As a conductor, Dorman’s debut season with CityMusic Cleveland will feature works by Vivaldi, Mozart, Schubert, as well as a performance of his Concerto Grosso. In 2012, he conducted the Brussels Philharmonic at Galaxy Studios for the recording of his original score to the film, The Wonders, a film noir set in modern day Jerusalem set to be released internationally in 2013. He has conducted premieres of several living composers at venues such as Seiji Ozawa Hall at the Tanglewood Music Festival. Dorman’s first public conducting appearance (which arrived with twenty four hours’ notice) featured a performance of Hector Villa Lobos’ Bachianas Brasileiras No. 5 at the Mann Auditorium in Tel Aviv to an audience of dignitaries including then Prime Minister Shimon Peres.
Masterful in his innovative use of percussion, Dorman’s percussion concerti, Spices, Perfumes, Toxins! and Frozen in Time, have become staples of the repertoire, studied and performed around the world. Zubin Mehta led the premiere of Dorman’s double percussion concerto, Spices, Perfumes, Toxins!, with the Israel Philharmonic Orchestra, and subsequently performed it with the UBS Verbier Festival Orchestra, the New York Philharmonic, and the Bavarian State Opera Orchestra. Dorman’s single percussion concerto, Frozen in Time, tore audiences from their seats in an overwhelming standing ovation at the Hamburg Philharmonic’s world premiere in 2007, with Martin Grubinger as percussion soloist. Since then, Grubinger has performed the concerto in the United States, throughout Europe and Asia.
Born in 1975, Avner Dorman completed his Doctoral degree as a C.V. Starr fellow at The Juilliard School, where he studied with John Corigliano, and his Master’s degree at Tel Aviv University, where he majored in music, musicology, and physics, and studied with former Soviet composer Josef Bardanashvili. Dorman was a composition fellow at the Tanglewood Music Center and served as composer in residence for the Stockton Symphony (2011-2012), the Alabama Symphony (2010-2011) and the Israel Camerata (2001-2003). He studied conducting at the Academy of Music in Tel Aviv with Noam Sheriff, Italy Talgram and Avner Itai.
Dorman’s music has garnered numerous awards and prizes. At the age of 25, he became the youngest composer to win Israel’s prestigious Prime Minister’s Award for his Ellef Symphony. He has received several international awards from ASCAP, ACUM and the Asian Composers League.
His music is available on two Naxos CDs, on Canary Classics, and several others. Avner Dorman’s music is published exclusively by G. Schirmer, Inc.
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CityMusic Cleveland strives for more as it approaches its 15th season Story and photography by Michael C. Butz On a sweltering and stormy evening in mid-May, the Shrine Church of St. Stanislaus presented a special Saturday night service, of sorts. It was a program that typically takes place only four times a year at the […]