Da Capo Chamber Players

Biography

Since its founding in 1970, the Naumburg-Award winning Da Capo Chamber Players has established itself as one of the foremost chamber ensembles in the United States. Hailed for its “agile, hair-raising” performances (The New York Times, 2005), Da Capo has long been a leader in contemporary music, pointing with pride to more than 100 works written especially for the ensemble.

Da Capo has recently scored several major triumphs in Russia, performing at the Moscow Tchaikovsky Conservatory’s “Moscow Forum,” the Moscow Autumn Festival, St. Petersburg’s “Sound Ways” Festival, and the Belarussian “Musical Autumn” in Minsk.

The ensemble’s New York concert series, presented annually since the group’s founding, has included gala concerts honoring major composers and groundbreaking programs that stretch the definition of chamber music.

Recent and upcoming highlights include critically-acclaimed performances of the music of George Perle and Arnold Schoenberg, music of George Crumb and Joan Tower (a unique collaboration with mime artist Yass Hakoshima), and CD recordings of music by composers Chinary Ung, Brian Fennelly, and Judith Shatin.

Da Capo Chamber Players currently consists of Meighan Stoops, clarinet; Patricia Spencer, flute; James Wilson, cello; Curtis Macomber, violin; and Blair McMillen, piano.


Curtis Macomber, ViolinCurtis-2

Praised by The New York Times for his “thrilling virtuosity”, violinist Curtis Macomber is recognized as one of the most versatile musicians before the public today, equally at home playing Bach or Babbitt. He has performed in hundreds of premieres of works by Elliott Carter, Mario Davidovsky, George Perle, Charles Wuorinen, and Steven Mackey, among others. From 1982-93, he toured the United States and abroad as a member of the New World String Quartet. Macomber is violinist for the Da Capo Chamber Players, a founding member of the Apollo Trio and violinist for Speculum Musicae. His most recent recordings include Casting Ecstatic (CRI), the complete Grieg Violin Sonatas on Arabesque, and music of Steve Mackey (Interior Design) and the complete Brahms Sonatas, both for Bridge. Macomber is a member of the chamber music faculty of the Juilliard School, where he earned B.M., M.M., and D.M.A. degrees as a student of Joseph Fuchs. He is also on the violin faculty of the Manhattan School of Music, and has taught at the Tanglewood, Taos and Yellow Barn Music Festivals.


Blair McMillen, PianoBlair-2

Blair McMillen has established himself as one of the most sought-after and versatile pianists today. Comfortable as both performer and improviser, his solo repertoire runs the gamut, from late-medieval keyboard manuscripts to challenging scores from the 21st century. He has performed at Carnegie Hall, Miller Theatre, (Le) Poisson Rouge, Aspen Music Festival, Caramoor, Bard Summerscape, CalArts, the Institute for Advanced Study (Princeton), and Bargemusic, and as soloist with the American Symphony Orchestra and the Albany Symphony. His 2004 recording, Soundings, received wide critical acclaim, and more recent solo projects have included Powerhouse Pianists (Lumiere), The Concert Music of Fred Hersch (Naxos), and Multiplicities: Born in38 (Centaur).

Dedicated to groundbreaking projects, McMillen is intensely committed to commissioning and performing the music of today. In addition to Da Capo, he plays regularly with the American Modern Ensemble, the downtown NYC-based Avian Orchestra, the St. Luke’s Chamber Ensemble, and the Locrian Chamber Players, among others. An active educator, a self-taught jazz pianist, and a fledgling electric guitar novice, McMillen serves on the piano and chamber music faculty at Bard College.

For more information, see Blair McMillen’s home page.


Patricia Spencer, FlutePatricia-3

Historic career peaks for flutist Patricia Spencer include premieres of Elliott Carter’sEnchanted Preludes, Karlheinz Stockhausen’s Kathinkas Gesang (US premiere), Harvey Sollberger’s Riding the Wind, and Shulamit Ran’s concerto, Voices. In August 2009 she gave the world premiere of Shirish Korde’s Lalit, written for her and renownedtabla player Samir Chatterjee. Other career highlights include the Boulez Sonatine for the Bard Music Festival, Joan Tower’s Flute Concerto for the National Flute Association Convention in Nashville, and a guest appearance with the Avalon String Quartet in Mario Davidovsky’s Quartetto for the Washington Square Music Society.  Recent New York Times reviews have cited her work in Tania León’s Alma, and her “passionate, warm-blooded performance” of the Berio Sequenza. Spencer has commissioned dozens of pieces, including Thea Musgrave’s now-classic Narcissus and Judith Shatin’s Kairos(Neuma Records). Ms. Spencer has received awards from the National Endowment for the Arts, the Mary Flagler Cary Charitable Trust, and the Aaron Copland Fund for Music. She teaches flute and chamber music at Bard College and Hofstra University.

For more information, please visit Patricia Spencer’s Home Page.


Meighan Stoops, ClarinetMeighan-2

Clarinetist Meighan Stoops considers herself privileged to be actively involved in both the classical and new-music realms as a solo, chamber, and orchestral performer. Since 2002 she has enjoyed tenure as a member of the Naumburg Award-winning Da Capo Chamber Players, which has commissioned and premiered over one hundred new works by American composers, toured nationally and internationally, and produced several critically acclaimed recordings. Luminous Spirals: The Chamber Music of Chinary Ung was recently named one of NPR’s Top 5 Contemporary Classical Recordings of 2010. As ensemble in residence at the extraordinarily creative community of Bard College and Conservatory for over thirty years, Da Capo continues to collaborate with student composers, performers, and distinguished faculty in the formation and performances of new works.For several summers Stoops has been a member of the Walden School Players, the resident ensemble at the Walden School for Young Musicians in Dublin, New Hampshire. She is also certified as a Walden Musicianship teacher, emphasizing the fundamentals of music through creative engagement in improvisation and composition. She holds degrees from Northwestern and Yale where her teachers included Russell Dagon and David Shifrin and this year will complete her Doctorate of Musical Arts at SUNY Stony Brook as a student of Alan Kay. Stoops currently serves as Music Director of the Calhoun School in Manhattan, where she fosters community involvement through inspired music making with students, parents, and faculty.


James Wilson, CelloJames-3

For the past twenty years, cellist James Wilson has consistently performed to the delight of audiences throughout the world, from small towns to the world’s most illustrious venues. Acclaimed for his singing tone, and intelligent and soulful approach to music, the Los Angeles Times described Wilson as a musician “with something to say and a commanding way of saying it.” In demand as a player of Baroque and modern cello he has appeared in many of the world’s most illustrious venues, including America’s Lincoln Center, Carnegie Hall and Kennedy Center, Casal’s Hall in Tokyo, the Sydney Opera House, Amsterdam’s Ysbreker, the Basilica of Notre-Dame in Montreal, the Philharmonie in Köln and the Musikverein in Vienna. He has performed at music festivals around the world such as the Hong Kong Arts Festival, the City of London Festival, the Deutches Mozartfest in Bavaria, the Kuhmo Chamber Music Festival in Finland, Ravinia in Chicago, the Mostly Mozart Festival in New York, the Aspen Music Festival in Colorado. A devoted advocate for the arts and arts education, Mr. Wilson is currently the Artistic Director of the Richmond–based Chamber Music Society of Central Virginia, and teaches cello and chamber music at Columbia University in New York.


Andre EmelianoffAndre-2

Andre Emelianoff, cellist with the Da Capo Chamber Players from 1976 until now, is leaving the group in the fall of 2011 to pursue new career directions. He will be very much missed, and his musical insights and energy will certainly remain a shaping force for us. At the same time, we are thrilled to announce that cellist James Wilson will be joining. A former member of the Shanghai Quartet, he brings a very exciting virtuosity and new perspective to the group.

Discography

LuminousSpiralsCover

Luminous Spirals – Music of Chinary Ung
1. Child Song
2. Luminous Spirals
3. Spiral VI
4. …still life after death

NPR lists Da Capo’s Chinary Ung CD in their top 5 Best American Classical Albums of the year.

Bridge Records #9321 (CD)

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GannPrivateDances

Hovenweep by Kyle Gann Performer: Meighan Stoops (Clarinet), David Bowlin (Violin), Andre Emelianoff (Cello), Blair McMillen (Piano), Patricia Spencer (Flute)
The Day Revisited by Kyle Gann Performer: Bernard Gann (Fretless Bass), Kyle Gann (Sampler), Blair McMillen (Sampler), Meighan Stoops (Clarinet), Patricia Spencer (Flute)

New Albion #137 (CD)

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dreamtigers

DreamTigers
– Chamber Music by Judith Shatin: 1) Werther; 2) Gazebo Music; 3) Secret Ground; 4) Dreamtigers
– Akbmatova Songs: 1) The Muse; 2) All Is Plundered; 3) The Souls of All My Dear Ones
– View from Mt. Nebo: 1) Determinec; 2) Ecstatic; 3) Impassioned

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RanCDCover

Chamber Music of Shulamit Ran (with guest artists Erica Kiesewetter, violin & Misha Amory, viola)

“A rare treasure” – Fanfare Magazine

*Mirage (1991), written for the 20th Anniversary of Da Capo for flute, clarinet, violin, cello, piano
*Private Game (1980), written for Da Capo’s 10th Anniversary for clarinet and cello
Inscriptions (1991), for solo violin
East Wind (1988), for solo flute
*To an Actor Monologue for Clarinet (1987), for solo clarinet
Concerto da Camera (1987), for clarinet, string quartet, piano

Bridge Records, BCD 9052 (CD)

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3130QRECVXL

Jeffrey Mumford: The Focus of Blue Light – a diffuse light that know no particular hour
written for the Da Capo Chamber Players with a commissioning award from the Amphion Foundation

CRI CD 650 (CD)

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schoenb
Arnold Schoenberg, Pierrot Lunaire, Op.21
– with guest artist Lucy Shelton, soprano, sprechstimme
– recorded in both German and English
– first recording of Andrew Porter’s English translation
Arnold Schoenberg, Herzgewaechse, Op.20
– with guest artists Lucy Shelton, soprano; Susan Jolles, harp; James David Christie, harmonium; Oliver Knussen, conductor

Bridge Records, BCD 9032 (CD)

This recording got a great mention in the New York Times recently

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 prl-crtr
*George Perle, Sonata a quattro
*George Perle, Sonata for Cello and Piano
George Perle, Lyric Piece
Elliott Carter, Pastorale
Elliott Carter, Esprit rude/Esprit doux
Elliott Carter, Enchanted Preludes
Elliott Carter, Canon for 4

 GM Recordings, GM2020CD (CD)


tower

Music by Joan Tower
*Joan Tower, Amazon
*Joan Tower, Wings

CRI SD 582 (CD)

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21sWb+6GRqL 
Da Capo in Song
with guest artists Phyllis Bryn-Julson, soprano; Paul Sperry, tenor; and Constantine Cassolas, tenor in the first recordings of:
– Aaron Copland, As It Fell Upon a Day
– Henry Cowell, Vocalise
– *Miriam Gideon, Voices from Elysium
– *Louise Talma, Diadem
– New World 317 (LP)

A CD Re-issue of this recording, titled ” Voices from Eleysium” is available.

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Nancy Chance, Duos III

Opus One 85 (LP)


The Da Capo Chamber Players Celebrate Their Tenth Anniversary – with commissioned works:
*Philip Glass, Modern Love Waltz (arr. Moran)
*George Perle, Scherzo
*Shulamit Ran, Private Game
*Joseph Schwantner, Wind, Willow, Whisper …
*Joan Tower, Petroushskates
*Charles Wuorinen, Joan’s

CRI SD 441 (LP)


*Ursula Mamlok, When Summer Sang

CRI SD 480 (LP)


Miriam Gideon, Nocturnes
with guest artists Judith Raskin, soprano; Ronald Roseman, oboe; Gordon Gottlieb, vibraphone; and John De Main, conductor

CRI SD 401 (LP)


*Joan Tower, Breakfast Rhythms I and II
*Joan Tower, Hexachords
with guest artists Daniel Shulman, conductor; and Gordon Gottlieb, percussion

CRI SD 354 (LP)


sollberg

*Harvey Sollberger, Riding the Wind I
with guest artist Harvey Sollberger, conductor

CRI SD 352 (CD)

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fennel

Brian Fennelly, Evanescences for Instruments and Electronic Tape

CRI CD 759 (CD)

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Reviews

For a full list of reviews on Da Capo Chamber Players, please click HERE.


The New York Times

“The Da Capo players were in fine shape. Their reading of “Black Angels,” one of Mr. Crumb’s most powerful, haunting works, drew on both the violence and the mystery in the score. The group did full justice to the extended timbres in “Vox Balaenae,” and to the more conventional shimmer of “Petroushskates.” Meighan Stoops, the ensemble’s clarinetist, had a star turn in Ms. Tower’s “Wings” (1981) and André Emelianoff, the cellist, and David Bowlin, the violinist, played unaccompanied interludes between some of the pieces. ”

– Allan Kozinn, music review “Works of Crumb and Tower, With Stylized Mime, as Well”, Nov 10, 2005  (For full review, please click HERE)

“Curiously and, as it turned out, interestingly the Da Capo players avoided works in which Mr. Perle’s lyricism was especially evident. Instead, they illuminated his humorous, playful side in performances that were consistently agile and transparent.”

– Allan Kozinn, music review “An Evening of George Perle, a Practitioner of the Rigidly Random”, Feb 9, 2005 (For full review, please click HERE)


MusicWeb International

“Marking four decades of work including over 100 commissions, the Da Capo Chamber Players celebrated that milestone with a prototypical mix of new works and greatest hits, ending with an early 20th-century landmark that they do about as well as anyone, anywhere… Among its technical demands: pianist Blair McMillen effortlessly navigated a piano part with his left hand while fingering a celesta with his right. With the superb Jeremiah Campbell as guest cellist, sparkling ensemble passages alternated with paragraphs of thundering violence, and the composer [Keith Fitch] was on hand to acknowledge the appreciative response. Ms. Tower was represented by two strong works, starting with And…They’re Off! for violin, cello and piano, with violinist Curtis Macomber, Mr. Campbell and Mr. McMillen stirring up a small tornado. And later in the program, Da Capo’s veteran cellist André Emilianoff joined McMillen for the stirring Très lent (Hommage à Messiaen), a moody homage to the composer’s Quartet for the End of Time.”

– Bruce Hodges, concert review “Celebrating Forty Years of the Da Capo Chamber Players” (For full review, please click HERE)

“With an electronic “pseudo-canned drumbeat” as anchor, Eric Moe’s Hey Mr. Drummachine Man offered pianist Blair McMillen the chance to show his considerable chops as well as his sense of humor. The slightly cheesy beat jumps right in, then continues inexorably as the pianist rides above it — sort of ‘Bartók meets techno’… Patricia Spencer offered sensitive playing to complement Pritsker’s waves of perpetual motion, creating a dreamlike landscape of fluttering, twittering sounds, breathing and eerie vocals… With Mr. McMillen in rapturous form on piano, Bowlin expertly characterized the work’s rhapsodic, not-quite-tonal episodes, all imbued with a slightly melancholic tone — gorgeous.”

– Bruce Hodges, concert review “Da Capo on Shuffle”, Jan 24, 2006  (For full review, please click HERE)

Website

Reviews

“…the Da Capo musicians gave a hair-raising, theatrical account of Schoenberg’s ‘Pierrot Lunaire.”

The New York Times

“The performance…could not have been more gripping.”

The New York Times

“distinguished ensemble . . . at the center of the New York new-music scene for forty-five years”

The New Yorker

“the sweepingly outgoing musical messages and expressive deep-digging performance”

The Village Voice

[Oracle] alone is worth the acquisition of this disc, in which the Da Capo Chamber Players do full justice to Ung’s musical vision and are recorded with the requisite clarity and definition.”

The Classical Review CDs

“the Da Capo musicians built the climactic ending into a ferocious onslaught, bringing the underlying tragedy of the work fully to the fore”

S&H International Concert Review