Known as the nation’s foremost label launched by an orchestra and devoted exclusively to new music, Grammy Award-winning BMOP/sound today announced the release of John Harbison: Diotima. Fresh off its 2021 Special Achievement Award win from Gramophone, the Boston Modern Orchestra Project (BMOP) along with soprano Dawn Upshaw are led by conductor Gil Rose. The album, according to Harbison, includes the first and likely the last music for orchestra written by him, over 40 years apart.
“Harbison is BMOP’s long-time friend who both helped build and strengthen contemporary music’s very foundations through advocacy and leadership as well as prolific composition,” says Gil Rose, founder/conductor of BMOP and Harbison aficionado and expert. According to Sequenza21, “Harbison couldn’t wish for better advocates or interpreters than Rose and BMOP.”
John Harbison: Diotima gives listeners the opportunity to compare Harbison’s two similarly fashioned orchestral works set to texts living at opposite ends of his career. The eponymous album opener marks its recording debut. Diotima was commissioned by the Koussevitzky Music Foundation in the Library of Congress to write a piece dedicated to the memory of Natalie and Serge Koussevitzky—the latter known for his role in establishing the Boston Symphony Orchestra as one of the leading orchestras in the United States.
As part of BMOP’s ongoing effort to perform, record, and disseminate Harbison’s significant, early works, this recording marks the label’s fifth Harbison album. Ulysses (#1001) was BMOP/sound’s 2008 inaugural release and received numerous accolades including “Best CDs of 2008” (Time Out New York). The opera Full Moon in March (#1010) was released in 2009 followed by the double-CD opera Winter’s Tale (#1023), which was rated “Best of 2012” by Sequenza21. The fourth, Concertos for String Instruments (#1074) was released in 2020.
Harbison is one of America’s most prominent artistic figures. He is the recipient of numerous awards and honors, among them a MacArthur Fellowship and a Pulitzer Prize. Harbison has been composer-in-residence with the Pittsburgh Symphony, the Los Angeles Philharmonic, the American Academy in Rome, and numerous festivals. He received degrees from Harvard and Princeton before joining the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, where he is currently Institute Professor. An accomplished jazz pianist, Harbison founded MIT’s Vocal Jazz Ensemble in 2010, for which he served as coach and arranger, and he is pianist with the faculty jazz group Strength in Numbers (SIN).
For many summers since 1984 he taught composition at Tanglewood, serving as head of the composition program there from 2005-2015, often also directing its Festival of Contemporary Music. He has been co-Artistic Director of the annual Token Creek Chamber Music Festival since its founding in 1989. He continues as principal guest conductor at Emmanuel Music (where for three years he served as Acting Artistic Director). Harbison was President of the Copland Fund for 15 years, and a trustee of the American Academy in Rome.
BMOP/sound, BMOP’s independent record label, was created in 2008 to provide a platform for BMOP’s extensive archive of music, as well as to provide widespread, top-quality, permanent access to both classics of the 20th century and the music of today’s most innovative composers. BMOP/sound has garnered praise from the national and international press. It is the recipient of a 2020 Grammy Award for Tobias Picker: Fantastic Mr. Fox as well as eight Grammy Award nominations, and its releases have appeared on the year-end “Best of” lists of The New York Times, The Boston Globe, National Public Radio, Time Out New York, American Record Guide, DownBeat, WBUR, NewMusicBox, and others. Admired, praised, and sought after by artists, presenters, critics, and audiophiles, BMOP and BMOP/sound are uniquely positioned to redefine the new music concert and recording experience.