Composer Forum: Trevor Weston

Friday, March 01, 2024 at 5:00pm to 6:30pm

Building 14, Lewis Music Library
160 MEMORIAL DR, Cambridge, MA 02139

About the Composer Forum Series

The MIT Music & Theater Arts Composer Forum is a series of public presentations by composers from inside and outside of MIT. Hosted in the Lewis Music Library, the MTA Composer Forum Series gives the MIT Community an opportunity to engage with leading voices in every field of Composition. Past presenters include John Harbison, Julia Wolfe, Terry Riley, Don Byron, and others.

Please join us after the talk for a light reception.

About the Speaker

Trevor Weston’s music has been called a “gently syncopated marriage of intellect and feeling.” (Detroit Free Press) Weston’s honors include the George Ladd Prix de Paris from the University of California, Berkeley, a Goddard Lieberson Fellowship and the Arts and Letters Award in Music from the American Academy of Arts and Letters, and residencies from the Virginia Center for the Creative Arts, the MacDowell Colony and a residency with Castle of our Skins at the Longy School of Music. Weston co-authored with Olly Wilson, chapter 5 in the Cambridge Companion to Duke Ellington, “Duke Ellington as a Cultural Icon” published by Cambridge University Press. Weston’s work, Juba for Strings won the Sonori/New Orleans Chamber Orchestra Composition Competition.

Weston won the first Emerging Black Composers Project award sponsored by the San Francisco Conservatory of Music and the San Francisco Symphony. The resulting work, Push, premiered by the San Francisco Symphony under the direction of Esa-Pekka Salonen in Davies Symphony Hall. Push was noted for, “Working in terse, delicate strokes, Weston covers a range of references from the African American musical tradition,” by the San Francisco Chronicle. “…an energetic and colorfully orchestrated mini-symphony, is the kind of work that makes you want to hear more of Weston’s music,” according to San Francisco Classical Voice. Weston’s Flying Fish, co-commissioned by Carnegie Hall for its 125 Commission Project and the American Composers Orchestra, was described as having, “…episodes of hurtling energy, the music certainly suggested wondrous aquatic feats. I was especially affected, though, by an extended slower, quizzical episode with pensive strings and plaintive chords.” (New York Times). Subwaves, a musical tribute to the NYC Subway, premiered at David Geffen Hall by the Music Advancement Program orchestra and the New York Philharmonic.

Recordings and performances of Weston’s chamber music include the honor of a JACK Quartet Studio Recording Project for his string quartets Juba and Fudo Myoo. Dan Flanagan commissioned Notre Dame au Millieu for solo violin to appear on the recording The Bow and The Brush. Weston’s Pinkster Kings and Shape Shifter are featured on Ensemble Pi’s recording Reparations Now. The Bang on a Can All-Stars premiered Weston’s composition Dig It, commissioned by the group for the Ecstatic Music Festival in NYC. The Etchings Festival presented a portrait concert of Weston chamber works in preparation for future recording project.

The Boston Globe described Weston’s choral music as having a “knack for piquant harmonies, evocative textures, and effective vocal writing.” Weston’s catalog includes numerous works for choir using secular and sacred texts. His first cantata, A New Song, commissioned by the early music ensemble Washington Bach Consort under the direction of Dana Marsh, explores the nature of music using original text by the composer. American Lamentation, composed for the Choir of St. Thomas Church Fifth Avenue, Jeremy Filsell director, is an oratorio engaging the history of slavery in the NYC area and its connection to the church. The work, “establishes a distinct voice even as it incorporates a variety of traditions.” Trevor Weston’s other dramatic compositions include a 50-minute dramatic work, “4,” honoring the lives of the four girls killed in the 1963 Birmingham AL church bombing. The Grammy-nominated Choir of Trinity Church Wall Street recorded a CD of Trevor Weston’s choral works. Weston’s Rivers of Living Water appears in Oxford Book of Choral Music by Black Composers.

A list of ensembles performing Trevor Weston’s compositions include Roomful of Teeth, The Boston Children’s Chorus, St. Thomas Church Fifth Avenue Choir, Washington National Cathedral, The Starling Chamber Orchestra, Castle of our Skins, Mallarme Chamber Players, The Providence Singers, The San Francisco Girl’s Chorus, Chicago Sinfonietta, Seraphic Fire, Sacred and Profane, The Overlook Quartet, The Boston Landmarks Orchestra, The American Symphony Orchestra Quartet, The Yale Choral Artists, Harvard University Choirs, The Tufts Chamber Chorus, Ensemble Pi, The Amernet String Quartet, The UC Berkeley Chamber Chorus, The Washington Chorus, Trilogy: An Opera Company, and The Manhattan Choral Ensemble. In addition to his creative work, Weston completed the re-orchestration of Florence Price’s Piano Concerto for the Center for Black Music Research in 2010.

Trevor Weston’s musical education began at St. Thomas Choir school in NYC at the age of ten. He received his BA from Tufts University and continued his studies at the University of California, Berkeley where he earned his MA and PhD in music composition. His primary composition teachers were T. J. Anderson, Olly Wilson and Andrew Imbrie and Richard Felciano. Dr. Weston is currently a Professor of Music and Chair of the Music Department at Drew University in Madison, NJ and an instructor for the Music Advancement Program and Pre-College at The Juilliard School, NYC.

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Performing Arts

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music, talk, Forum, composer



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