Composer Maw joins Peabody faculty Music: England's Nicholas Maw, best known for the orchestral epic 'Odyssey,' is writing an opera of 'Sophie's Choice.'

August 18, 1998|By Judith Green | Judith Green,SPECIAL TO THE SUN

British composer Nicholas Maw will join the faculty of the Peabody Conservatory of Music in September.

He succeeds Chen Yi, the Chinese-born composer who taught at Peabody for the last two years. She has become a tenured professor at the University of Missouri, Kansas City.

Maw, 62, studied with Lennox Berkeley at the Royal Academy of Music and with Nadia Boulanger and Max Deutsch, a student of Arnold Schoenberg, in Paris.

He is best known for the 96-minute orchestral epic "Odyssey" (1987), which has been called a masterpiece by British and American critics alike.

A recording of it by Sir Simon Rattle and the City of Birmingham Symphony was nominated for a Grammy Award in 1992. Leonard Slatkin and the St. Louis Symphony gave the American premiere in 1994.

He is working on an opera of "Sophie's Choice," an adaptation of the tragic novel by William Styron, which is scheduled to make its premiere at the Royal Opera Covent Garden in the fall of 1999. His other operas are "One-Man Show" (1964) and "The Rising of the Moon" (1970), which was written for the Glyndebourne Festival.

The composer has written a substantial number of orchestral works, including a violin concerto that was premiered by Joshua Bell in 1993; works for wind ensemble; chamber music for instruments and voices; sacred choral works, including "One Foot in Eden, Still I Stand," for the 550th anniversary of the founding of King's College, Cambridge University, and recorded by the King's College Choir; and solo vocal and instrumental pieces.

Maw lives in London and Washington with his wife, Maija Hay, a ceramic artist.

Joining the staff

In other Peabody news, Gustav Meier will return from a year's leave to direct the graduate program in conducting. He will lead the Peabody Symphony on Feb. 9 in a performance of Shostakovich's rarely performed Symphony No. 12.

Cellist Alan Stepansky, on leave as an assistant principal player with the New York Philharmonic, has joined the artist faculty full-time. Last year, he was a part-time teacher at Peabody, replacing a faculty cellist who left midway through the academic year.

The conservatory also has three new part-time faculty: Anthony Gigliotti, principal clarinet for 47 years with the Philadelphia Orchestra; mezzo Deidra Palmour, who has performed with the Baltimore Symphony Orchestra and Baltimore Choral Arts Society; and Robert van Sice, an internationally known marimba virtuoso, who has commissioned more than 150 works for the instrument.

The conservatory, bursting at its seams with 650 students, has bought two townhouses across Centre Street from its campus and is negotiating for two office buildings on the same block.

All will be used for faculty office space.

Pub Date: 8/18/98

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