The Philadelphia Orchestra to Hold Open Reading Session of BeethovenNOW Companion Pieces with Conductor John Adams and Composer-in-Residence Gabriela Lena Frank September 28, 2019

Posted on September 13, 2019

Works by Iman Habibi, Jessica Hunt, and Carlos Simon to be performed by the Orchestra in working session in advance of world premieres in spring 2020


(Philadelphia, September 13, 2019)—The Philadelphia Orchestra and celebrated composer and conductor John Adams will rehearse commissioned works for the Orchestra’s BeethovenNOW celebration in a collaborative working session with Composer-in-Residence Gabriela Lena Frank and composers from her Creative Academy of Music: Iman HabibiJessica Hunt, and Carlos Simon.


The reading session will showcase newly written works by Habibi, Hunt, and Simon that challenge, inspire, and push boundaries, creating fresh perspectives on the relevance of Beethoven’s legacy today, 250 years after his birth. The event, which is free and open to the public, will take place in Verizon Hall at the Kimmel Center for the Performing Arts on Saturday, September 28, 2019, at 10:30 AM. Online RSVPs are encouraged at


Using last season’s showcase for women composers as a model, the composers will also participate in a feedback session with members of the Orchestra’s Artistic Advisory Committee, Adams, Frank, and others. Following the session, they will continue to refine their works in advance of the world premiere performances in dialogue with Beethoven’s symphonies, which will take place in a concentrated four-week period from March 12 through April 5, 2020. Habibi’s work, Jeder Baum spricht, will be paired with Symphonies No. 5 and No. 6; Hunt’s work, Climb, will be paired with Symphonies No. 2 and No. 3; Simon’s work, Fate Now Conquers, will be paired with Symphonies No. 8, No. 4, and No. 7; and Frank’s work, Preludio (working title), will be paired with Symphonies No. 1 and No. 9. (Frank’s work will not be part of the September 28 reading session.)


“This is about the future,” said Orchestra President and CEO Matías Tarnopolsky. “To foster dialogue among composers, musicians of the Orchestra, and leaders in the field as distinguished as John Adams and Gabriela Lena Frank is essential to the development of composers of the future. This is an incredible opportunity to showcase works by an exciting group of contemporary artists and to offer the public a rare view into their compositions before the world premieres later this season. We look forward to an exhilarating, insightful, and productive session—and to an innovative celebration of Beethoven’s 250th birthday.”    


“For these young composers to have the opportunity to hear their works performed by the great Philadelphia Orchestra is not only an honor for them but a true learning experience,” said Adams. “A composer can imagine and write down the notes, but only when those notes are actually played by skilled and sensitive musicians is the musical creative process complete.”


Frank offered the following insight: “Imagine being tasked with creating a tasty meal never eaten before, without recipe nor the ability to smell or taste during the cooking process. You prep as you can, imagining the results, drawing on memories of meals past, yet risking new techniques. The guests arrive, the meal is served with trepidation and ceremony, and upon all taking that first bite together, everything is known: Is it delicious or not? This, in a nutshell, is what composing a symphony is like. In the studio, armed with hard-won knowledge from writing string quartets and clarinet sonatas, the composer can’t conjure up an insta-orchestra for readings of a large ensemble work. Consequently, the rehearsal right before a premiere is often a mad dash of acceptable tweaks and rewrites when conductor, musicians, and composer all hear the music for the first time. For this reason, readings of a work in progress are so very beneficial in creating a great work of orchestral art. In fact, as a composer myself who wrote her first orchestral work 20 years ago, I don't think it’s a stretch to say that the value of readings is a great equalizer—every composer, experienced or not, can use them. I’m so grateful that three talented alums of my institute, the Gabriela Lena Frank Creative Academy of Music, are receiving this valuable investment of time from The Philadelphia Orchestra for their pieces crafted for BeethovenNOW. With the Orchestra’s input, I have no doubt that the pieces written by Iman Habibi, Jessica Hunt, and Carlos Simon will be eminently successful. We are thankful!”


About the Composers


Iman Habibi, D.M.A., is an award-winning composer and pianist, and a founding member of the piano duo ensemble Piano Pinnacle. Hailed as “a giant in talent” (Penticton Herald), he has received commissions from noted ensembles such as The Philadelphia Orchestra and the Orchestra of St. Luke’s, and has collaborated with the Vancouver Symphony Orchestra, the Winnipeg Symphony Orchestra, musica intima, the Calidore String Quartet, the JACK Quartet, and the Chiara String Quartet, among others. Habibi’s music has been programmed by Carnegie Hall, the Marilyn Horne Foundation, the Canadian Opera Company, Tapestry Opera, the New York Festival of Song, Vox Novus, the Atlantic Music Festival, the BC Scene Festival, and the Powell Street Festival, among others.


Jessica Hunt’s music has been heard in Los Angeles, Chicago, and New York City, broadcast on FM radio and PBS television, recorded on the Pro Organo label, and played in concert by some of today’s finest ensembles and soloists. Hunt’s primary goal as a composer is to seek emotional resonance in the rhetorical dialogue between herself, the audience, and the performer by creating eclectic works that explore the aural and syntactical intersections between theater, narrative, sound, truth, and fiction. As such, she has a particular focus on works engaging with the interpretation of text. Her current large-scale work in progress is Thurso’s Landing, an opera in two acts based on the epic narrative poem of the same title by Robinson Jeffers.


Carlos Simon’s latest album, My Ancestor’s Gift, incorporates spoken word and historic recordings to craft a multifaceted program of musical works that are inspired as much by the past as they are the present. As part of the Sundance Institute, he was named a Sundance Composer Fellow in 2018. His string quartet, Elegy, honoring the lives of Trayvon Martin, Michael Brown, and Eric Garner, was recently performed at the Kennedy Center for the Mason Bates JFK Jukebox Series. With support from the U.S. Embassy in Tokyo and United States-Japan Foundation, Simon traveled with the Asia/America New Music Institute on a two-week tour of Japan in 2018, performing concerts in some of the most sacred temples and concert spaces in Japan, including Suntory Hall in Tokyo.


About The Philadelphia Orchestra 


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Ashley Berke


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Natalie Lewis


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