Originally posted by the Ithaca Times on Wednesday, April 4, 2012 and written by Patrick Valentino.
It seems we’ve all been having a busy year. But for Prof. Jorge Grossmann, it has been the best kind of busy – the Ithaca College composition professor is traveling the globe, attending performances of his work, coaching ensembles, and offering masterclasses for young composers.
Building bridges across cultures and participating in global networks have become integral parts of contemporary music, as Grossmann’s activities illustrate. He recently returned from Spain, where he was working as composer-in-residence at conservatories in Valencia and Castellón. While there he attended performances of his compositions by the newly-formed Nomos Ensemble, directed by Carlos Amat. “Carlos Amat has become a new music advocate”, explained Grossmann. “He has a project called Puentes (Bridges) which invites composers from abroad, especially from Latin America.”
Grossmann was the first composer to be invited by the Puentes project, and the Nomos Ensemble is quickly making a name for itself in the contemporary music scene. “This was their debut concert; now they’ll be touring and commissioning new works,” Grossmann noted. With ensembles like Nomos, Spain can explore a new tradition of contemporary chamber music while enjoying the cultural exchanges that enrich all art.
Next season, Grossmann will be building a bridge to a culture which holds a special place in his heart – that of his own Peruvian heritage. His new piano concerto will be premiered with Eastman faculty member Enrico Elisi as soloist and the Peruvian National Orchestra next season. Grossmann explains the importance of his connection to his homeland: when people like he and his family (who fled Peru during the rise of the Maoist Shining Path) return, the relationship with those who stayed throughout the terror can be strained. “Some of them see it as a kind of betrayal,” he said.
Yet, he is dedicated to building a bridge over this barrier. Grossmann explained how he aimed with each Peruvian homecoming to enhance musical education and opportunities for young students in his native country. “Every time I go there I teach masterclasses and encourage young composers, because there aren’t many young Peruvian composers. If I’m going to write a piece which is going to be premiered there,” he said, “it’s going to be based on something which has a Peruvian connection.” Asked how his relationship with his Peruvian colleagues has changed over the years of his musical visits, he said, “The music is always well received, so it seems they have embraced me [and welcomed me] back.”
Even before this season is over, Grossmann has more musical engagements, including a Ukrainian premiere that came about serendipitously. Grossmann met Carlos Amat in Lima and encouraged him to conduct in Kiev’s Contemporary Music Festival. When Grossmann contacted the Ukrainians to introduce Amat, they asked for a new piece of music – not for next season, but this coming May. Grossmann agreed, and has been feverishly working on expanding Notus, a work premiered at Ithaca College this season, into a three-movement triptych.
“It’s going to be my longest piece, and it all came about just like that”, he said, as he snapped his fingers. “Bridges?” I suggest . “Yes,” he agreed, “bridges.”