New York-based composer and saxophonist Patrick Zimmerli has released 6 CDs of his music. He recently completed a Chamber Symphony for the Saint Paul Chamber Orchestra, and is producing a CD featuring pianists Kevin Hays and Brad Mehldau.
Since 2005 Zimmerli has presented a concert series, entitled Emergence, dedicated to the creation and performance of new work. Featuring his 9-piece ensemble and special guests from the classical, jazz, and electronic music communities, the series has seen 17 performances and over 40 premieres.
In addition to the trio for harp, flute and viola, current commissions include a large orchestra piece for the Colorado College Summer Music Festival’s 25th Anniversary Season. Other commissions have come from the Ying Quartet, the Seattle Chamber Music Festival, cellist Kristina Reiko Cooper, and the Belgian jazz octet Octurn.
His work has been performed at MoMA and the Guggenheim Museum, on NPR’s Fresh Sounds, at the Jazz Composers’ Collective, and at major chamber music festivals throughout the US. Zimmerli’s music has been recorded on the Arabesque, Blue Note, Songlines, Koch, Antilles, Jazz City, and Naive labels, and he has written extensively for radio, TV, and film.
From 2002–2005 Zimmerli was Composer in Residence with the Metamorphosen Chamber Orchestra. Awards include first prize in the first annual BMI/Thelonious Monk Institute Composers’ Competition. Zimmerli teaches at Columbia University, where he earned a BA in 1990, an MPhil in 1996 and a DMA in 2000 in Music Composition.
Patrick Zimmerli writes about his trio: “When I was approached to write this Trio, I knew that I would be taking a step into the unknown. Although I have written fairly extensively for each instrument (and played the flute when younger), the ensemble, with its impressionist, French connotations, was not something I had gravitated towards as a way of expressing my quintessentially American musical ideas. To find the sound I was seeking, I decided to shun the idiomatic and coloristic effects that Ravel and Debussy explored for the ensemble, effects I felt bore those composers’ stamps too explicitly. I even resisted harp glissandos, only giving in to them at the piece’s conclusion. I focused instead on more universal — and less stylistically defining — musical devices such as theme, harmony, and rhythms, with fairly simple textures and traditional means of develop.m.ent.
“Like much of my work, the piece mixes jazz and classical idioms. Formally, with its fast-slow-fast arch, it has much more in common with chamber music of the 18th or 19th century than that of the 20th. Its syncopations, melodic sensibility, and overall emotional tone give it an aesthetic cast unmistakably of the 21st century.
I.Flowing: A straightforward sonata form, featuring a three note opening motto spun out into an extended melody. The middle section begins with rubato statements from the viola and flute before the rhythmic character returns. A placid, spacious version of the theme inaugurates the coda, and the movement ends with the return of the motto.
II. Molto moderato: A slow opening theme in flute and viola anchors this movement, appearing in various textural guises throughout. The subsequent songlike contrasting section recurs at the end, before a series of dreamy harp chords, accompanied by viola pizzicato and light flute staccato, close the movement.
III. Allegro energico: The movement begins with a repeating rhythmic figure that sprouts several melodic ideas. A broad, chorale-like theme follows, with all instruments playing in rhythmic unison. After a middle section featuring virtuosic interplay between the flute and viola reminiscent of jazz improvisation, the chorale theme returns, blossoming via harp glissandi, before the reappearance of the opening figure leads to conclusion.”
Sponsored by: Carla Rosenlicht, and Jill and Herschel Rosenzweig