Friends of MacPhail Performance
The Michael Steinberg & Jorja Fleezanis Fund will present the world premiere of its third commission by composer Jessica Meyer at 4 pm on Saturday, May 14 at Westminster Hall (Westminster Presbyterian Church, 1200 S. Marquette Ave.), Minneapolis.
Jessica Meyer’s Where You Love From, a setting of the 13th-century Persian poet Rumi, will be performed by Jorja Fleezanis, violin; Jessica Meyer, viola; Anthony Ross, cello; Brian Mount, percussion; and Stephen Yoakam, narrator. The program will conclude with Johannes Brahms’ Piano Quartet in C minor, op. 60, featuring Fleezanis, Meyer and Ross, joined by internationally acclaimed pianist Lydia Artymiw.
The composer writes: “I fell in love with the power of words all over again when I read Rumi. The rich imagery makes my job a joy, for sounds almost jump off the page into my mind. This unusual instrumentation will offer both unique challenges and opportunities.”
Coleman Barks, the renowned translator of the great Islamic poet Rumi, describes his translations as “kin to the great American tradition of free verse”. Although Mr. Barks will not be able to attend the performance, a video introducing how he found his way to Rumi, together with an interview by Bill Moyers, will be shown as part of the concert.
More information about the composer Jessica Meyer can be found at https://jessicameyermusic.com
For ordering tickets and further information on the May 14 concert, and to learn more about the Michael Steinberg and Jorja Fleezanis Fund and its previous commissions, please visit https://steinbergfleezanisfund.org
About the Fund
Jorja Fleezanis served as concertmaster of the Minnesota Orchestra from 1989 to 2009 and then was appointed Professor of Violin and Orchestral Studies at Indiana University’s Jacobs School of Music. Currently she is Visiting Faculty of Creative Orchestral Studies at the Interlochen Center for the Arts while continuing to devote herself to a wide range of musical projects. Foremost among them is her work on behalf of the Jorja Fleezanis and Michael Steinberg Fund, which she founded to honor her late husband, the distinguished musicologist, critic and author Michael Steinberg, whose writings have appeared in publications around the world. Jorja explains: “Michael believed deeply in the power of curiosity as the driving force in creating art and understanding it. The most significant gesture of gratitude I could give him was to create a legacy of new works to celebrate his lifelong defense of composers who were bold pioneers, pushing the boundaries of music ever outward. The Fund’s goal is to award an annual commission to an emerging composer who will bring together music and the written word.”
Funded by private donations, it has previously commissioned Ithaka, Justin Merritt’s setting of the poem by Greek poet C. P. Cavafy, and Emily Cooley’s Slow Song for Mark Rothko, named after the poem by the American poet John Taggart. Mr. Taggart was present for the premiere at Indiana University in Bloomington, IN and spoke with the composer before the performance. After a two-year COVID pause, the Fund now presents the premiere of Meyer’s Where You Love From.
The Fund is also pleased to announce that its fourth commission has been granted to composer Jungyoon Wie, who will set the poem For the Sleepwalkers by the distinguished American poet Edward Hirsch. (Premiere TBD.)
Michael Steinberg, American musicologist, was one of the finest writers on classical music of this or any age, and a teacher and communicator whose knowledge and passion inspired the lives of countless people.
Born in Breslau, Germany, he was one of 10,000 Jewish children who owed their survival to the Kindertransport, the rescue mission before the outbreak of the Second World War.
In America, he studied at Princeton and took a degree in musicology, then taught music history at various East Coast colleges before joining the Boston Globe, where he became notorious as a feared and fearless critic. Thereafter he worked as director of publications, program-note writer and artistic adviser for a succession of orchestras – Boston, San Francisco, Minnesota – while at the same time pursuing an active career as a lecturer and chamber-music coach.
“Those elements of musical experience that touch us most deeply, most lastingly, that change our lives, are below the surface of experience. They are not meant for effortless access. Oh, and how many of our musical love affairs have begun in frustration and anger? How easy it is to say, “That’s not what I call music?”
Michael Steinberg: excerpt from For the Love of Music: Invitations to Listening (New York, Oxford University Press, 2006) by Michael Steinberg and Larry Rothe
Jorja Fleezanis joined the faculty at the Jacobs School of Music at Indiana University in 2009 as Professor of Violin, holding the Henry Upper Chair in Orchestral Studies. In 2016, she received the Dorothy Richard Starling Chair that she held until her retirement in 2020. She currently holds the title of Visiting Faculty for Creative Orchestral Studies at the Interlochen Center for the Arts in Michigan.
In 1989, she was appointed concertmaster of the Minnesota Orchestra, a post she held for twenty years. Previously she had been the associate concertmaster of the San Francisco Symphony and a member of the Chicago Symphony.
Ms. Fleezanis has been guest concertmaster for numerous orchestras as well as a frequent guest artist and teacher at various summer festivals and music schools.
Her passion for new music led to the Minnesota Orchestra commissioning two major solo works for her, the John Adams Violin Concerto and Ikon of Eros by John Tavener, as well as other commissions.