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Stephen Jaffe


Stephen Jaffe, Composer

Stephen Jaffe’s music has been featured at major concerts and festivals including the Nottingham, Tanglewood, and Oregon Bach Festivals, and performed throughout the U.S., Europe and China by ensembles including the R.A.I. of Rome, Slovenska Filharmonia (Slovenian Philharmonic), the National Symphony, the San Francisco, North Carolina and New Jersey Symphonies, Berlin’s Spectrum Concerts, London’s Lontano and many others.    Bridge Records has issused three discs of the composer’s music, including David Hardy’s recording of the Concerto for Cello and orchestra, introduced by the National Symphony, Leonard Slatkin, conducting. Other premieres have included Cut Time, also by Leonard Slatkin and the National Symphony, and two orchestral works written for the North Carolina Symphony: Poetry of the Piedmont, and Cìthara mea (Evocations): Spanish Music Notebook for Orchestra, based on Spanish Renaissance music. 

In these works and others, Jaffe’s musical language ranges from the lyrical, singing voices of the cello and violin to an orchestral world filled with the sounds of contemporary percussion, from steel drums in the Concerto for Cello to songs of Black-Capped Chickadees in Poetry of the Piedmont. Another notable work to be performed once again this season is Homage to the Breath: Instrumental and Vocal Meditations for mezzo-soprano and Ten Instruments, with a text by Thich Nhat Hanh, introduced at the Hirschorn Museum in Washington, D.C. by the 21st Century Consort, who also recorded the work with mezzo-soprano Milagro Vargas on the Bridge label. Recent chamber works include group concertos such as the HIP Concerto (Chamber Concerto No. 3), for a consort of period or modern instruments, and Light Dances (Chamber Concerto No. 2) written for Philadelphia’s Network for New Music.   Three string quartets are in the repertoire of the Ciompi, Miami, and Borromeo Quartets.

 Jaffe has been the recipient of numerous awards for his composition, including the Rome Prize, Kennedy Center Friedheim Award, Brandeis Creative Arts Citation, and fellowships from Tanglewood, the National Endowment for the Arts, and the Guggenheim Foundation. Bridge’s recording of the Concerto for Violin and Orchestra received the Koussevitsky International Recording Award; in May,2012, Jaffe was elected to membership in the American Academy of Arts and Letters.  He is Mary D.B.T. Semans Professor of Music Composition at Duke. Together with Scott Lindroth, Jaffe directs Duke’s contemporary music concert series Encounters: with the Music of Our Time, and works with an inventive and gifted group of young composers.