Press Release: Centenaries of Composers Elliott Carter & Olivier Messiaen Celebrated in Graduate Center Faculty-Guest Concert

A chamber music centenary celebration of American composer Elliott Carter (b. 1908) and French composer Olivier Messiaen (1908-1992) will be presented Wednesday, September 10, at 7:30 p.m. by CUNY Graduate Center faculty members, students, and guest artists. The concert will be held in the Graduate Center’s Baisley Elebash Recital Hall, located at 365 Fifth Avenue (at 34th Street).  Admission is free and open to the public.

Carter and Messiaen are two of the most renowned of the post-World War II generation of composers. Featured on the program will be two of the great works of the contemporary chamber music literature: Carter’s Sonata for Cello and Piano (1948) and Messiaen’s monumental Quartet for the End of Time (1941).  These works will be performed by violinist Olivier Fluchaire, D.M.A. candidate at the Graduate Center; clarinetist Anthony McGill, principal clarinet of the Metropolitan Opera; cellist Edward Arron, artistic director of the Metropolitan Museum Artists and the Caramoor Virtuosi; and pianist Sylvia Kahan, professor of music at the Graduate Center.    

Elliott Carter is “one of America's most distinguished creative artists in any field” (Aaron Copland). With the explorations of tempo relationships and texture that characterize his music, Carter is recognized as one of the prime innovators of 20th-century music. Recent years have seen an outpouring of major orchestral scores, along with numerous chamber works.  His late style is marked by transparency and clarity of texture, with a new directness of formal design. Carter’s music has been championed by leading conductors including Boulez, Barenboim, Knussen, Dohnányi, Levine, Gielen, and Holliger.  The recipient of two Pulitzer Prizes and commissions from many prestigious organizations, Carter has received awards and honors from, among others, the National Institute of Arts and Letters and the American Academy of Arts and Sciences, as well as the governments of France, Germany, and Italy.  The year 2008 marks Carter's 100th birthday, with centenary celebrations across the world.

Also born in 1908, Olivier Messiaen was arguably the greatest French composer of the 20th century.  His works – music for piano and for organ, chamber music, orchestral music, and opera – are informed by two major influences: birdsong, which Messiaen notated in great detail and which became a vital musical source for him, and his Christian faith and Catholicism, which has imbued his works with a profound spirituality.  His first great test of faith took place in 1940, when he was captured by the Nazis.  Interned in a prisoner of war camp and starving, he experienced ‘colored’ dreams, which led him to compose what is probably his most performed work: Quatour pour la Fin du Temps (Quartet for the End of Time). The instrumentation (violin, cello, clarinet, and piano) was governed by the musician friends that were with Messiaen (the pianist) in the camp. The first performance took place in 1941 in front of fellow prisoners.

The Graduate Center is the doctorate-granting institution of The City University of New York (CUNY). An internationally recognized center for advanced studies and a national model for public doctoral education, the school offers more than thirty doctoral programs as well as a number of master’s programs. Many of its faculty members are among the world’s leading scholars in their respective fields, and its alumni hold major positions in industry and government, as well as in academia. The Graduate Center is also home to more than thirty interdisciplinary research centers and institutes focused on areas of compelling social, civic, cultural, and scientific concerns.  Located in a landmark Fifth Avenue building, the Graduate Center has become a vital part of New York City’s intellectual and cultural life with its extensive array of public lectures, exhibitions, concerts, and theatrical events.  Further information on the Graduate Center and its programs can be found at


Edward Arron, cellist, has appeared in recital, as a soloist with orchestra, and as a chamber musician throughout the United States, Europe and the Far East.  The 2007-2008 season marks Mr. Arron’s fifth season as the artistic coordinator of the Metropolitan Museum Artists in Concert, whose performances are broadcast live on WQXR-NY.  Mr. Arron is also the artistic director of the Caramoor Virtuosi and of the Alpenglow Chamber Music Festival in Summit County, Colorado.  He has performed at Carnegie’s Weill and Zankel Halls, Lincoln Center’s Alice Tully and Avery Fisher Halls, New York's Town Hall, and the 92nd Street Y, and is a frequent performer at Bargemusic. Summer festival appearances include Ravinia, Salzburg, Mostly Mozart, BRAVO! Colorado, Tanglewood, Bridgehampton, Piccolo Spoleto, Santa Fe, the North Country Chamber Players, the Chamber Music Conference of the East, and Isaac Stern’s Jerusalem Chamber Music Encounters.  Mr. Arron has participated in the Silk Road Project and is currently a member of MOSAIC, an ensemble dedicated to contemporary music.
Olivier fluchaire, violinist, has performed throughout Europe, Asia and the United States as a soloist, recitalist, and chamber musician. He gave his New York recital debut in Weill Hall at Carnegie Hall in 2001 as winner of the Artists International Competition, and has performed concertos with the French Philharmonia Orchestra, the Bachanalia Orchestra, The Jupiter Symphony, and the Bronx Orchestra.  At the Montepellier Opera House, he performed the Bach Double Violin Concerto alongside Yehudi Menuhin.  As chamber musician, he has collaborated with members of the Guarneri, American, and Emerson string quartets.  He has recorded for the Vox and Newport Classics Labels, as well as for Radio France, BBC Television, National Educational Television, WQXR-NY, and National Public Radio.  Mr. Fluchaire is currently a doctoral candidate at the CUNY Graduate Center, and serves on the strings, chamber music, and music history faculties at the College of Staten Island and Hunter College, CUNY.  He has recently been named Coordinator of Orchestral Studies at Hunter College.  

Sylvia kahan, pianist,
has performed as concerto soloist, recitalist, and chamber musician in all of New York’s major halls and in concert venues throughout North America and Europe.  She has been featured in prestigious concert series New York, Chicago, and Paris, and her recitals have been broadcast on WQXR, WNYC, and National Public Radio. She has participated in the Tanglewood, Aspen, Waterloo, Delta, and Nancy (France) summer festivals, and has collaborated with the English Chamber Orchestra, sopranos Roberta Peters and Shirley Verrett, and members of the New York Philharmonic and Metropolitan Opera Orchestra. An award-winning musicologist, Sylvia Kahan has written books and articles on 19th-century and 20th-century French music and culture, including the critically hailed biography Music’s Modern Muse: A Life of Winnaretta Singer, Princesse de Polignac (University of Rochester Press).  An alumna of the CUNY Graduate Center’s Music Program, Dr. Kahan is now Professor of Music at both the Graduate Center and the College of Staten Island.  
ANTHONY McGILL, clarinetist, has been principal clarinet of the New York Metropolitan Orchestra since 2004.  From 2000-2004, he was associate principal clarinet of the Cincinnati Symphony Orchestra. In 2001, he became the sixth clarinetist in history to win an Avery Fisher Career Grant, a $15,000 prize recognizing immensely talented instrumentalists. Mr. McGill has performed at the Marlboro Music Festival, Sarasota Festival, La Musica, Tanglewood, Music@Menlo, and the Grand Teton Music Festival. He has also appeared as soloist with the symphony orchestras of Baltimore, New Jersey, and Hilton Head, and has performed with some of the great string quartets of the world, including the Guarneri, Tokyo, Shanghai, Miami, Brentano, Miró, and Daedalus quartets. Anthony McGill has appeared in Ravinia’s Rising Stars series, has toured repeatedly with Musicians from Marlboro and, in Europe and Japan, with the Brentano String Quartet and Mitsuko Uchida, and has performed at Lincoln Center as a member of Chamber Music Society Two.  

Submitted on: AUG 1, 2008

Category: Press Room