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Premiere of Sackler Prize-winning composition set for March 19

by Beth Krane - March 13, 2006

A new wind ensemble composition inspired by tales of Narcissus, Snow White, and Harry Potter, will be performed for the first time at the University on March 19 and 20.

The world premiere of Mirror, Mirror will be held at von der Mehden Recital Hall on Sunday, March 19, at 8 p.m.

A second performance will take place at the Ferguson Library on the Stamford Campus on Monday, March 20, at 7:30 p.m.

The piece was written by composer Stacy Garrop, the 2005 winner of the Raymond and Beverly Sackler Music Composition Prize, now in its fourth year.

Garrop, an assistant professor in composition at the Chicago College of Performing Arts at Roosevelt University, was selected for the cash prize from among 100 entries the School of Fine Arts received from 27 states and 16 countries.

She has won several other competitions, resulting in performances by the Civic Orchestra of Chicago, Omaha Symphony, New England Philharmonic, the Women’s Philharmonic, and Ensemble of the North.

Mirror, Mirror involves two identical wind ensembles, each consisting of a flute, an oboe, a clarinet, a bassoon, a horn, a trumpet, a trombone, and one percussionist, to be set up in exact mirror images of each other. One represents reality or the mirror’s subject, while the other represents the mirror’s reflection, Garrop says.

Three distinct movements explore aspects of the stories and fables that inspired the work. The first movement depicts the Greek legend of Narcissus, the middle movement explores J.K. Rowling’s Harry Potter and the mirror of Erised, and the final movement illustrates the Grimm Brothers’ rendition of Snow White.

“It’s a fascinating concept,” says Jeffrey Renshaw, conductor of the University’s wind ensembles, which will perform the premiere of Mirror, Mirror.

“It’s also quite a challenging work to premiere.”

Renshaw, a professor of music who has conducted more than 50 world premieres, says the Sackler prize is the largest cash prize for newly commissioned works administered by a public institution.

“This has become one of the predominant music composition awards in the country and internationally,” he says.

Garrop says the competition is “very significant for young composers. There are very few competitions that offer enough money that a composer doesn’t have to work full time while composing the commissioned piece, and it was a major boost of recognition by colleagues in my field all over the nation.”

She says another attraction the Sackler Prize holds for composers is a guaranteed premiere performance.

“It can be tricky to write large ensemble works without having a group dedicated to premiering it,” she says.

“As the Sackler prize concentrates on offering larger ensemble commissions as its prize, this is a fabulous and much-needed opportunity to write a new, large work that receives a guaranteed premiere performance.”

The commissioned work for the Sackler prize rotates format each year. Next year’s prize will commission a new work for jazz ensemble.

Garrop will rehearse with the UConn wind ensembles Wednesday, March 15, and Friday, March 17. There also will be a Meet the Composer session Thursday, March 16, at 1 p.m., at von der Mehden Recital Hall.

The prize was established through a gift from Raymond and Beverly Sackler, philanthropists and frequent donors to the University.

The Sacklers fund several important initiatives at the School of Fine Arts, including the Raymond and Beverly Sackler Artist-in-Residence Program, the Raymond and Beverly Sackler Master Artists Institute, and the Raymond and Beverly Sackler Art and Archaeology Lecture Series.

They also were instrumental in forging an academic partnership between the Metropolitan Opera and UConn.

The Sacklers fund many other initiatives at the University, and support the arts, education, and medical research at institutions around the world.

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