Ursula Oppens, one of the very first artists ever to grasp the importance of programming traditional and contemporary works in equal measure, has won a singular place in the hearts of her public, critics, and colleagues alike. Her sterling musicianship, uncanny understanding of the composer's artistic argument, and lifelong study of the keyboard's resources, have placed her among the elect of performing musicians. In 2008, Ms. Oppens celebrated the 100th birthday of her friend and colleague, Elliott Carter, with critically acclaimed performances of his complete works for solo piano at the Boston Conservatory of Music, at Symphony Space, and at San Francisco Performances; and other appearances at Ravinia, Tanglewood, Merkin Hall, and elsewhere.

In the 2008-09 season, Ursula Oppens performed Messiaen's Visions de l'amen at New York City's Symphony Space, and returned for a solo recital joined by the New York Woodwind Quintet for Carter chamber music at New York City's Merkin Hall. Ms. Oppens also reunited with Mark Morris Dance Group for Mozart Dances, appearing in Toronto, on tour in New Zealand, and at the Kennedy Center.

Other highlights include a featured appearance at the Los Angeles Philharmonic's renowned Green Umbrella Festival; Lou Harrison's Piano Concerto at the Pacific Symphony Orchestra's American Composers Festival; Carter's Dialogues at the Tanglewood Festival; her world-premiere performance of William Bolcolm's Ballade at the newly re-opened Merkin Hall; Frederic Rzewski's The People United Will Never Be Defeated at Berkeley's EdgeFest (one of the "top ten classical music events of 2007", Joshua Kosman, San Francisco Chronicle); and recitals at Philadelphia Chamber Music Society, Columbia University's Miller Theater, Zankel Hall, the International Keyboard Institute and Festival at the Mannes College of Music and elsewhere.

Her enduring commitment to integrating new music into regular concert life has led her to commission and premiere many compositions, including works by Anthony Braxton, Elliott Carter, Anthony Davis, John Harbison, Julius Hemphill, Tania Leon, György Ligeti, Witold Lutoslawski, Conlon Nancarrow, Tobias Picker, Frederic Rzewski, Alvin Singleton, Joan Tower, Lois V Vierk, Christian Wolff, Amnon Wolman, and Charles Wuorinen.

A co-founder of Speculum Musicae, Ms. Oppens has an extensive recording catalogue and has received two Grammy nominations: for her Vanguard recording of Frederic Rzewski's The People United Will Never Be Defeated, and for American Piano Music of Our Time, a classic compilation of piano works by 20th century American composers for the Music & Arts label. Her recent Cedille release, Oppens plays Carter, was named on "Best of 2008" lists in The New York Times, The New Yorker magazine, and the Chicago Tribune.

Ursula Oppens studied piano with her mother, the late Edith Oppens, as well as with Leonard Shure and Guido Agosti. She received her master's degree at The Juilliard School, where she studied with Felix Galimir and Rosina Lhévinne. After 14 years as the John Evans Distinguished Professor of Music at Northwestern University, Ms. Oppens joined the faculty of Brooklyn College Conservatory of Music and CUNY Graduate Center as Distinguished Professor in fall 2008.


Jordan Hall at New England Conservatory | January 22, 2010
Jordan Hall at New England Conservatory | May 21, 2004

News and Press

[Concert Review] Classical Music Review: BMOP's Band in Boston

Time was when Boston had a City Censor, and books and plays drummed up trade by having them “Banned in Boston.” The Boston Modern Orchestra Project, headed by conductor Gil Rose, came up with the deliciously punning title “Band in Boston” for its Jordan Hall concert on January 22. Indeed there was not a bowed string instrument to be seen on stage all evening – nothing but 36 wind players, plus five percussionists, a harpist, and three pianists.

The Arts Fuse Full review
[Concert Review] BMOP: Band in Boston

The BMOP continued its season last Friday with their Band in Boston concert, celebrating 20th and 21st century music for wind ensemble with two repertoire mainstays by Stravinsky and Percy Grainger, as well as some newer compositions by Harold Meltzer, Wayne Peterson, and Joseph Schwantner. Robert Kirzinger’s excellent program notes make the case that band music has lost some of its historical prestige because the bands (military, university, etc.) have themselves lost their prestige, despite their ability, popularity, and cultural and social significance.

Boston lowbrow Full review
[Concert Review] BMOP does band

The Boston Modern Orchestra Project is known for exploring a wide variety of 20th- and 21st-century instrumental music. On January 22nd at New England Conservatory’s Jordan Hall, under the baton of music director Gil Rose, the group forayed into wind ensemble territory with a program of varying styles and with mixed effectiveness.

The Boston Musical Intelligencer Full review
[Concert Review] Mighty winds and brass!

If you saw sparks flying over Boston’s Back Bay last night, it might have been the result of the energy and excitement generated by the Boston Modern Orchestra Project during their performance in Jordan Hall. BMOP’s primary mission is to commission, perform and record new orchestral work. They also perform 20th-century “classics” with great gusto.

Miss Music Nerd Full review
[Concert Review] BMOP soars through graceful season finale

“A dazzling world premiere by Evan Ziporyn and the appearance of not one but two celebrated guest soloists distinguished the final concert of this year’s Boston Modern Orchestra Project season at Jordan Hall on Friday.

Renowned “new music” pianist Ursula Oppens applied her unfailingly insightful curiosity and sublime graciousness of touch to Augusta Read Thomas’s 2000 intermittently appealing Aurora. And master clarinetist Richard Stoltzman’s playing impressed as usual in Stephen Hartke’s 2001 Clarinet Concerto....

The Boston Globe Full review