Steinhardt Music Students Give Life to Lars Graugaard’s Cutting Edge Contemporary Compositions with “Venus”

When Steinhardt Professor of Music Robert Rowe invited Lars Graugaard for an unofficial residency in 2013, he was drawn to the Danish contemporary composer’s digital-sonic experiments, which lent themselves to both large-scale orchestral compositions as well as chamber and solo works.

“I knew he’d be able to engage with a wide variety of our student musicians and that they’d be inspired by his originality and innovation,” said Rowe.

What followed was the birth of Venus, a recording in four pieces composed by Graugaard and performed by the NYU Symphony Orchestra, the NYU Contemporary Music Ensemble, and the NYU Percussion Ensemble.  Released in October 2015 by Dacapo records with the support of the Danish Arts Council, Venus marks the first original professional music recording written specifically for Steinhardt student performers.

“I’m always looking for new collaborations for our orchestras, so I took up a discussion with Lars and our Tonmeister and full time faculty member Paul Geluso about a possible commission for the NYU Symphony,” said Joseph Bongiorno, associate professor of music at Steinhardt.  “Within a half hour or so we arrived at the concept for Venus, an interactive work for violin and double bass soloists and a Beethoven-size orchestra that would premier at the historic St. Josephs Church in Greenwich Village with doctoral candidate Patti Kilroy and alumnus Patrick Swoboda as soloists.”

In addition to the title track of Venus, recorded by the NYU Symphony Orchestra, the album also features Layers of Earth, fusing oboe, interactive computer, and 15 percussion players from the NYU Percussion Ensemble; and Book of Throws and Three Places with the NYU Contemporary Music Ensemble.

“Lars’s unique compositional style was quickly embraced by our students,” said Jonathan Haas, music professor and director of the Percussion Studies Program at Steinhardt.   “Through a combination of compositional techniques including improvisation, carefully composed music, and Lars’s introspective yet gregarious personality, the resulting musical interactions are amongst the most memorable experiences for the members of the NYU Orchestra, NYU Percussion Ensemble and NYU Contemporary Music Ensemble.”

Venus is available for purchase online on Amazon and the Decapo Records website.