SIMAKU (1997)

by Kevin Puts

I wrote Simaku in the summer of 1996 for the then Elm City Ensemble (now Antares) while attending the fellowship program at Tanglewood. At the time I was interested in repetitive music in which patterns change in various ways over time. For example, a lyrical violin melody gradually becomes “infected” by the rhythmic bustle of the other instruments, who in turn gradually shed the notes of their busy patterns in favor of longer notes. The tonality of the music is also perpetually shifting away from the “white-key” opening and back again. The piece is named after the Albanian composer Thoma Simaku, a friend of mine who was also in the fellowship program at Tanglewood that summer. The piece was premiered in Ozawa Hall with myself at the piano.


Kevin Puts

Known for his rich and distinctive voice, KEVIN PUTS (pronounced as in ‘she puts it on the table’) has been hailed by the critics as one of the most important composers of his generation.  His work has been commissioned and performed by leading orchestras in the United States and abroad, including the New York Philharmonic, the Tonhalle Orchestër (Zurich), the symphony orchestras of Baltimore, Cincinnati, Detroit, Atlanta, Colorado, Houston, Fort Worth, Utah, St. Louis, the Boston Pops, and the Minnesota Orchestra which commissioned his Sinfonia Concertante, and by leading chamber ensembles such as the Mirò Quartet, the Eroica Trio, eighth blackbird, the Pittsburgh New Music Ensemble, and the Chamber Music Society of Lincoln Center. 

Puts’ orchestral catalog includes four symphonies as well as several concertos written for some of today’s top soloists.  In 2005, Mr. Puts received the tremendous honor of a commission in celebration of David Zinman’s 70th birthday, and the result was Vision, a cello concerto premiered by Yo-Yo Ma and the Aspen Music Festival Orchestra.  During the same year, his Percussion Concerto was premiered by Evelyn Glennie with the Pacific and Utah Symphonies.  He has also written concertos for marimbist Makoto Nakura, violinist Michael Shih, clarinetist Bil Jackson, and a piano concerto commissioned by the Los Angeles Chamber Orchestra and premiered in 2008 by pianist and conductor Jeffrey Kahane.  Future projects include a work for chorus and orchestra for the Houston Symphony, and a large-scale opera based on the film Joyeux Nöel for Minnesota Opera, a chamber opera for eighth blackbird, and a work for Trio Solisti commissioned by Chamber Music Monterey Bay.

Puts has received awards and grants from the American Academy in Rome, the Guggenheim Foundation, the American Academy of Arts and Letters, BMI and ASCAP.  He has served as composer-in-residence of Young Concerts Artists, the California Symphony, the Fort Worth Symphony, the Los Angeles Chamber Orchestra, and Bravo! Vail Valley Music Festival, Music from Angel Fire, and the Bach Dancing and Dynamite Society. He received his training as a composer and pianist at the Eastman School of Music and Yale University.  Since 2006, he has been a member of the composition department at the Peabody Institute in Baltimore, Maryland. 

A native of St. Louis, Missouri, Mr. Puts received his Bachelor’s Degree from the Eastman School of Music, his Master’s Degree from Yale University, and a Doctor of Musical Arts at the Eastman School of Music.

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