Imaginary Prelude Hannah Lash (6’)
Arthur’s Dance for solo viola Nokuthula Ngwenyama (6’)
Danza de la Mariposa for solo flute Valerie Coleman (6’)
Fantasie in A Major Op. 124 for violin and harp Camille Saint-Saëns (15’)
– Intermission –
Sonata for flute, viola, and harp Claude Debussy (18’)
Pastorale. Lento, dolce rubato
Interlude: Tempo di Minuetto
Finale. Allegro moderato ma risoluto
Three Pieces for flute, viola, and harp Umama Womama (18’)
(east coast premiere)
Down Nokuthula Ngwenyama
Music in Cold Hannah Lash
Aja Valerie Coleman
Flutist Valerie Coleman, Violist Nokuthula Ngwenyama and Harpist Hannah Lash joined forces in 2019 to create an all-star ensemble whose mission is to celebrate motherhood and champion the performer-composer hybrid artist model, while expanding the Debussy trio combination of flute, viola, and harp through the creativity of its members. The name umama womama is a rhythmic play of the word ‘mother’ in Zulu, said in the singular and plural. It speaks to the complex responsibilities of its members, whose artistry as performers and composers is informed by their related experiences. Delayed by pandemic for two years, this ensemble makes its anticipated debut with the Phoenix Chamber Music Society, Clarion Concerts and Chamber Music Northwest in the 2022 spring and 2023 summer seasons.
Valerie Coleman is regarded by many as an iconic artist who continues to pave her own unique path as a composer, GRAMMY®-nominated flutist, and entrepreneur. Highlighted as one of the “Top 35 Women Composers” by The Washington Post, she was named Performance Today’s 2020 Classical Woman of the Year, an honor bestowed to an individual who has made a significant contribution to classical music as a performer, composer or educator. Her works have garnered awards such as the MAPFund, ASCAP Honors Award, Chamber Music America’s Classical Commissioning Program, Herb Alpert Ragdale Residency Award, and nominations from The American Academy of Arts and Letters and United States Artists. Umoja, Anthem for Unity was chosen by Chamber Music America as one of the “Top 101 Great American Ensemble Works” and is now a staple of woodwind literature.
Coleman commenced her 2021/22 season with the world premiere of her latest work, Fanfare for Uncommon Times, at the Caramoor Festival with the Orchestra of St. Luke’s. In October 2021, Carnegie Hall presents her work Seven O'Clock Shout, commissioned by The Philadelphia Orchestra, in their Opening Night Gala concert featuring The Philadelphia Orchestra and Yannick Nézet-Séguin. This follows on the success of the world premiere of Coleman’s orchestral arrangement of her work Umoja, commissioned by The Philadelphia Orchestra and performed in Philadelphia and at Carnegie Hall in 2019, marking the first time the orchestra performed a classical work by a living female African-American composer. In February 2022, The Philadelphia Orchestra and soprano Angel Blue, led by Nézet-Séguin, will give the world premiere of a new song cycle written by Coleman, commissioned by the orchestra for performances in Philadelphia and at Carnegie Hall.
Coleman has been named to the Metropolitan Opera/Lincoln Center Theater New Works dual commissioning program in 2021/22. This season sees performances of her works by orchestras around the United States including the Minnesota Orchestra, Baltimore Symphony Orchestra, Sarasota Orchestra, New Haven Symphony Orchestra, Yale Symphony Orchestra, Vermont Symphony and The Louisville Orchestra. Recent commissions include works for the Orpheus Chamber Orchestra, The Library of Congress, Orchestra of St. Luke’s, American Composers Orchestra, The National Flute Association, University of Chicago and University of Michigan. Previous performances of her works have been with the New York Philharmonic, Boston Symphony Orchestra, Pittsburgh Symphony, St. Louis Symphony, Atlanta Symphony Orchestra, Toronto Symphony and significant chamber ensembles and collegiate bands across the country.
Former flutist of the Imani Winds, Coleman is the creator and founder of this acclaimed ensemble whose 24-year legacy is documented and featured in a dedicated exhibit at the Smithsonian National Museum of African American History and Culture in Washington, D.C. Along with composer-harpist Hannah Lash, and composer-violist Nokuthula Ngwenyama, she co-founded and currently performs as flutist of the performer-composer trio Umama Womama.
As a performer, Coleman has appeared at Carnegie Hall and The Kennedy Center and with The Philadelphia Orchestra, Hartford Symphony, New Haven Symphony, Boston University Tanglewood Institute, Orpheus Chamber Orchestra, Banff, Spoleto USA and Bravo! Vail. This season, Valerie appears at a host of festival and collegiate multi-disciplinary residencies, including Orchestra of St. Luke’s, Chamber Music Northwest, Phoenix Chamber Music Society, University of Michigan and Coastal Carolina University.
As a chamber musician, Coleman has performed throughout North America and Europe alongside Dover Quartet, Orion String Quartet, Miami String Quartet, Harlem String Quartet, Quarteto Latinoamericano, Yo-Yo Ma, Ani and Ida Kavafian, Anne-Marie McDermott, Wu Han, David Shifrin, Gil Kalish, members of the Los Angeles Chamber Orchestra, and jazz legends Paquito D’Rivera, Stefon Harris, Jason Moran and René Marie. A laureate of Concert Artists Guild, she is a former member of Chamber Music Society of Lincoln Center CMS Two.
Coleman’s work as a recording artist includes an extensive discography. With Imani Winds, she has appeared on Sony Classical, Deutsche Grammophon, Sony Classical, Naxos, Cedille Records and eOne, and as a guest flutist on albums with Wayne Shorter Quartet, Steve Coleman and the Council of Balance, Chick Corea, Brubeck Brothers, Edward Simon, Bruce Adolphe, and Mohammed Fairouz. Her compositions and performances are regularly broadcast on NPR, WNYC, WQXR, Minnesota Public Radio, Sirius XM, Radio France, Australian Broadcast Company and Radio New Zealand.
Coleman recently joined the Mannes School of Music Flute and Composition faculty in Fall 2021 as the Clara Mannes Fellow for Music Leadership. Prior to that she served on the faculty at The Frost School of Music at the University of Miami as Assistant Professor of Performance, Chamber Music and Entrepreneurship. In 2021/22, she leads a year-long residency at The Juilliard School in their Music Advancement Program through American Composers Forum.
Coleman’s compositions are published by Theodore Presser and her own company, VColeman Music. She studied composition with Martin Amlin and Randy Wolfe and flute with Julius Baker, Judith Mendenhall, Doriot Dwyer, Leone Buyse and Alan Weiss. She and her family are based in New York City.
Hailed by the New York Times as “striking and resourceful…handsomely brooding,” Hannah Lash’s music has been performed at Carnegie Hall, Los Angeles’ Walt Disney Concert Hall, Lincoln Center, the Times Center in Manhattan, the Chicago Art Institute, Tanglewood Music Center, Harvard University, The Aspen Music Festival & School, The Chelsea Art Museum, and on the American Opera Project’s stage in New York City. Commissions include The Fromm Foundation, the Boston Symphony Orchestra, Saint Paul Chamber Orchestra, Carnegie Hall, Chamber Music Northwest, the McKim Fund in the Library of Congress, Cabrillo Festival of Contemporary Music, American Composers Orchestra, Columbia University’s Miller Theatre, The Naumburg Foundation, the Los Angeles Chamber Orchestra, the Arditti Quartet, the Great Lakes Chamber Music Festival, the Colorado Music Festival, and the Aspen Music Festival and School, among many others.
Lash has received numerous honors and prizes, including Rappaport Prize for Music Composition (2018), ASCAP Morton Gould Young Composer Award (2011), a Charles Ives Scholarship (2011) and Fellowship (2016) from the American Academy of Arts and Letters, a Fromm Foundation Commission, a Chamber Music America Classical Commissioning Grant, a fellowship from Yaddo Artist Colony, the Naumburg Prize in Composition, the Barnard Rogers Prize in Composition, the Bernard and Rose Sernoffsky Prize in Composition, and numerous academic awards. Her orchestral work Furthermore was selected by the American Composers Orchestra for the 2010 Underwood New Music Readings. Her chamber opera, Blood Rose, was presented by New York City Opera’s VOX in the spring of 2011.
New York Times music critic Steve Smith praised Lash’s work for the JACK Quartet, Frayed: “Ms. Lash’s compact sequence of pale brush strokes, ghostly keening and punchy outbursts was striking and resourceful; you hoped to hear it again…” Esteemed music critic Bruce Hodges lauded Lash’s piece Stalk for solo harp as being “appealing…florid, and introspective.”
In addition to performances of her music in the USA, Lash’s music is well known internationally. In April of 2008, her string quartet Four Still was performed in Kyev in the Ukraine’s largest international new music festival, “Musical Premieres of the Season,” curated by Carson Cooman. In the summer of 2010, her piece Unclose was premiered by members of Eighth Blackbird at the MusicX festival in Blonay, Switzerland.In 2016, her chamber orchestra work This Ease saw its German premiere and was selected as “audience favorite” in performances by the Philharmonisches Staatsorchester Mainz, conducted by Hermann Bäumer. In 2019, her work was featured at the Presteigne Festival in Wales, and in 2021 she anticipates her work The Nature of Breaking to be performed at the Alba Festival in Alba, Italy. She will also be featured in a Composer Portrait in Mainz, Germany in 2021, where multiple Lash works will be performed over a week.
Recent premieres include the multi-movement orchestral work The Voynich Symphony by the New Haven Symphony, Form and Postlude for Chamber Music Northwest, a new Requiem for the Yale Choral Artists, How to Remember Seeds for The Calidore String Quartet, Three Shades Without Angles, for flute, viola and harp, by the Boston Symphony Chamber Players, Two Movements for violin and piano, commissioned by the Library of Congress for Ensemble Intercontemporain, and a new chamber opera, Beowulf, for Guerilla Opera, as well as several new orchestral works: Chaconnes, for the New York Philharmonic’s Biennial, Eating Flowers, for the Cabrillo Festival of Contemporary Music, Nymphs, for the Alabama Symphony Orchestra, and This Ease, for the Los Angeles Chamber Orchestra, as well as two concerti for harp premiered by the American Composers Orchestra (Concerto No. 1 for Harp and Chamber Orchestra) and the Colorado Music Festival (Concerto No. 2 for Harp and Orchestra), both with Lash as soloist.
Lash obtained her Ph.D in Composition from Harvard University in 2010. She has held teaching positions at Harvard University (Teaching Fellow), at Alfred University (Guest Professor of Composition), and currently serves on the composition faculty at Yale University School of Music.
“Mother of Peace” and “Lion” in Zulu, Nokuthula Ngwenyama’s performances as orchestral soloist, recitalist and chamber musician garner great attention. Gramaphone proclaims her as “providing solidly shaped music of bold mesmerizing character.” As a composer, Uptown Magazine featured her “A Poet of Sound.”
Ms. Ngwenyama gained international prominence winning the Primrose International Viola Competition at 16. The following year she won the Young Concert Artists International Auditions, which led to debuts at the Kennedy Center and the 92nd Street ‘Y.’ A recipient of the prestigious Avery Fisher Career Grant, she has performed with orchestras and as recitalist the world over.
This 2021-22 season Ms. Ngwenyama collaborates with the Kalichstein-Laredo-Robinson Trio on the premiere of Elegy for piano quartet, co-commissioned by the Linton Chamber Series, Phoenix Chamber Music Society, Chamber Music Northwest and Bard College. She joins the Oregon Mozart Players with maestro Kelly Kuo performing Dobrinka Tabakova's Suite in Old Style and returns to the Colburn School as an Amplify Artist premiering their commission of Cars Talk for violin, viola, cello and bass. As a member of the group Umama Womama she joins fellow instrumentalists and composers Valerie Coleman and Hannah Lash premiering a jointly written trio for flute, viola and harp commissioned by Chamber Music Northwest, Phoenix Chamber Music Society and Clarion Concerts. Primal Message, an homage to the Arecibo message that received its orchestral world premiere with the maestro Xian Zhang and the Detroit Symphony Orchestra last season, is performed to by the Orquesta Nacional de España, Canada’s National Arts Centre Orchestra, the New Jersey, Toronto, and San Francisco Symphonies, and the Los Angeles Philharmonic. Mark Swed of the Los Angeles Times commented the ‘sounds get along not necessarily through traditional harmonic consonance (although there is plenty of that), but through a kind of rightness of being.’
Ms. Ngwenyama has performed at the White House and testified before Congress on behalf of the National Endowment for the Arts (NEA). An avid educator, she served as visiting professor at the University of Notre Dame and Indiana University Jacobs School of Music. She also served as director of the Primrose International Viola Competition and is past president of the American Viola Society. She curates Composer’s Choice, a co-production of ASU/Kerr Cultural Center, Phoenix Chamber Music Society, and Peace Mama Productions (PMP). It features 21st century music and its creators - from the concert hall to television, game and beyond - in a chamber setting.
Born in Los Angeles, California of Zimbabwean-Japanese parentage, Nokuthula Ngwenyama (No-goo-TOO-lah En-gwen-YAH-mah) studied theory and counterpoint with Mary Ann Cummins, Warren Spaeth and Dr. Herbert Zipper at Crossroads School. She also appeared on Sylvia Kunin’s Emmy-nominated 'A Musical Encounter' series with cellist and host Lynn Harrell and was orchestral soloist in the American Film Foundation documentary Never Give Up: The 20th Century Odyssey of Herbert Zipper. She is an alumna of the Colburn School for the Performing Arts (now the Colburn Community School of Performing Arts) and the Curtis Institute of Music, where her theory and counterpoint teachers were Edward Aldwell, Jennifer Higdon and David Loeb. As a Fulbright Scholar she attended the Conservatoire National Superieur de Musique et de Danse de Paris and received a Master of Theological Studies degree from Harvard University. She is the first composer in residence of the Phoenix Chamber Music Society and plays on a 1597 Antonius and Hieronymus Amati viola from the Biggs Collection.
We thank the following foundations, businesses and individuals who have supported us in 2021 and 2022.
And we thank the following generous foundations, businesses and individuals who helped us bring you our concerts in 2020.
* In memory of Josh Lipton