Founded in 2006 as a composer membership organization, Alia Musica Pittsburgh approaches its 10-year anniversary as an established actor in the local and regional new music scene with a recognized capacity to impact positively on the careers of young composers and performers.
Particularly in the last four years Alia Musica has seen significant growth in the reach of its events and the scope of its collaborations. Between 2011 and 2013 Alia Musica premiered works by George Tsontakis, Ricardo Zohn-Muldoon, and Robert Dick, featuring also renowned conductor Cliff Colnot, and collaborating with organizations throughout the US.
In January 2014, in partnership with the Eastman School of Music, the University of Kentucky, and the Cincinnati Conservatory of Music, Alia Musica presented a tour featuring Comala, the Pulitzer-finalist opera by Ricardo Zohn-Muldoon, featuring musicians from Alia Musica itself and from the original cast that recorded Comala (headed by soprano Tony Arnold), under the direction of Alia Musica’s Artistic Director Federico Garcia-De Castro. In the same year Alia Musica performed in New York city, in exchanges with New York’s organizations Random Access Music and thingNY.
Also in 2014 (May), Alia Musica produced the Pittsburgh New Music Festival, a week of indoor and outdoor events with a total budget of over $67,000, highlighted by the Pittsburgh premiere of John Luther Adams’ Inuksuit (for 99 percussionists) and of Robert Ashley’s opera Perfect Lives (in the acclaimed 2012 arrangement for live performance by New York City’s Varispeed). The Festival (which also featured the Pittsburgh debut performance by legendary pianist composer Frederic Rzewski) was listed among the top 10 Classical Music Events of the Year by the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette. It was produced with the support of a special grant from Pittsburgh’s Heinz Endowments, and additional support from The Pittsburgh Foundation, The Sprout Fund, and other sources, testifying to the consensus about Alia Musica’s positive role on the arts scene in Western Pennsylvania.
Alia Musica has contributed to put contemporary music in a position of cultural leadership in the region, garnering significant resonance for it among audiences and institutions. At the end of the 2014-15 Season, the organization was awarded a $35,000 residency grant by The Pittsburgh Foundation—one of three projects selected (along with two of Pittsburgh’s legacy cultural organizations, the Pittsburgh Filmmakers and City of Asylum) from among 161 applications. The grant will support a year-long collaboration with composer Ken Ueno, recognized as one of the most prominent names in new music in the country and beyond. This comes on the heels of a successful season where Alia Musica produced performances of seminal modern works, including Boulez’s Dialogue de l’ombre double, Berio’s Linea, Varèse’s Density 21.5, and a performance by Frederic Rzewski of his own The People United. Guest performers of the stature of Rzewski himself, New York’s Yarn/Wire quartet, and Italian Luisa Sello, alternated with performances by Alia Musica’s own ensemble (both self-produced and contracted), which continued to bring to life music composed in the city as well as works of universal stature like Georg Friedrich Haas’s Nach-Ruf… ent-gleitend.
Alia Musica’s performance of Haas’s sextet at the “Beyond: Microtonal Music Festival”, produced by the Warhol Museum and Music on the Edge in Pittsburgh. March 1, 2015.
Dawn Posey, violin
Katie Kroko, viola
Simon Cummings, cello
Sarah Steranka, flute
Lenny Young, oboe
Emily Cook, clarinet
Federico Garcia-De Castro, conducting