The New Yorker, Goings On Blog
Russell Platt
April 3, 2008

In the Times, Allan Kozinn provided a typically sagacious and deftly written account of the first major concert of the MATA—Young Composers Now! series at the Brooklyn Lyceum (on April 1). The concert closed with the New York premiere of Lisa Bielawa’s Double Violin Concerto, which was played with saintly elegance by Carla Kihlstedt and Colin Jacobsen, backed by Gil Rose and the excellent Boston Modern Orchestra Project.

While Allan’s prose outlined the piece in positive terms, my composer’s ears, buzzing in the post-concert crush, picked up some extra vibes. Bielawa walked into the hall as a professional, but she may well have walked out a star: the piece caused that kind of excitement.

As I noted in my recent post about Chris Thile and his group Punch Brothers, Generation X, while boasting many fine composers, has yet to produce a bona-fide American star like the younger Nico Muhly or the older Jennifer Higdon. (Britain has Thomas Adès, France has Marc-André Dalbavie.) Yet Bielawa, a former professional singer in her late thirties who is a prominent protégée of Philip Glass, may just be the one.

But don’t wait for Itzhak Perlman and Pinchas Zukerman to take it up. Kihlstedt, also a singer, sang a setting of a translated text from Goethe’s Faust during the slow movement, while simultaneously playing the violin. It’s that kind of uniqueness—along with the work’s deft combination of Romantic, minimalist, and avant-garde influences—that could well carry the piece into the future.