Hildegard Competition Concert: inti figgis-vizueta, Bergrún Snæbjörnsdóttir, and Niloufar Nourbakhsh
Featuring National Sawdust Ensemble with Jeffrey Zeigler and Lidiya Yankovskaya
6pm doors • 7pm show
The classical music world’s past may have been dominated by cis white men, but its future sure won’t be! The three winners of the second annual Hildegard Competition — National Sawdust’s premier competition for trans, female, and nonbinary composers at the start of their careers — have each written a brand new work for this concert, and all three will be given their world premieres on this electrifying evening alongside works from the competition’s runners-up. Hear music by inti figgis-vizueta, Niloufar Nourbakhsh, and Bergrún Snæbjörnsdóttir and get a taste of the vibrant future that lies ahead.
This debut performance of the National Sawdust Ensemble will also perform music from runners-up Bahar Royaee, Yaz Lancaster, Meara O’Reilly, Nina Shekhar, Angela Slater, and Sugar Vendil, and our lobby will feature the graphic scores of runner-up Monica Demarco. Don’t miss this spectacular, celebratory event!
inti figgis-vizueta (they/them) is a queer Andinx experimental composer based in Brooklyn, NY. They write identity-focused musics, often channeling storytelling and the manifestation of non-hegemonic voices in concert spaces. inti works to create transparent, self-contained musical processes through which melodic and timbreal interaction blooms and consumes itself. inti studied with Felipe Lara.
inti has received numerous awards, including the 2016 Koster Grant for Summer Study, the 2017 JMU New Music for Young Musicians award, and a resident composer spot at the 2019 Mizzou International Composers’ Festival featuring Alarm Will Sound. They’ve won numerous calls for scores from organizations such as Verdant Vibes, the N/A Ensemble, UnTwelve, Baltimore Choral Arts, and 113 Collective. Their music has also been played by ensembles such as loadbang, the PUBLIQuartet, Hypercube, the RTE Contempo String Quartet, and Argot Duo, as well as the Shenandoah Valley Youth Orchestra and SJSU Wind Ensemble. They were featured at the New Music Gathering as a panelist in 2017 and as a featured composer in 2018 as well as at the New Latin Wave Festival 2018, curated by Angélica Negrón. inti actively freelances, with recent commissions including ones from clarinetist Gleb Kanasevich, trumpeter Kate Amrine, countertenor Luke Paulino, and the duo Mazumal (Felicia Chen & Olivia J Harris).
When not composing, inti works as the Director of Inclusion at the Boulanger Initiative and as a curator for Score Follower.
Brooklyn- and Reykjavík-based composer Bergrún Snæbjörnsdóttir hails from the peripheries of Iceland. Within her works, Bergrún seeks to establish an internal logic from whence the soundscapes emerge, sometimes integrating visual and aural phenomena into an indivisible whole. Her work has been performed widely by groups such as the Oslo Philharmonic, Nordic Affect, the Iceland Symphony Orchestra, and the International Contemporary Ensemble, and has been featured in events such as Nordic Music Days, the KLANG Festival, the Ultima Festival, Dark Music Days, the SPOR Festival, the Tectonics Festival, ISCM’s World New Music Days, and more.
As a performer, Bergrún has a diverse background, having been a touring and recording musician for Icelandic bands Sigur Rós and Björk as well as performing experimental music in various constellations. She is a member of SLÁTUR (the Society of Artistically Obtrusive Composers Around Reykjavík), and was co-chairwoman of the annual Young Nordic Music Festival. Bergrún completed an MA in composition from Mills College in 2017.
Described as “stark” by WNPR, Iranian composer Niloufar Nourbakhsh’s music has been commissioned and performed by Symphony Number One, the I-Park Foundation, the PUBLIQuartet, the Women Composers Festival of Hartford, the Spark and Echo Project, the Forward Music Project, the Cassatt String Quartet, and the Akropolis Reed Quintet at numerous festivals, including the Atlantic Music Festival, the Seal Bay Festival of American Chamber Music, the New Paltz Piano Summer, the SPLICE institute, New Music For String, the MusLab Electroacoustic festival in Mexico, the University of Tennessee Contemporary Music Festival, and many more. Founder and co-director of the Iranian Female Composers Association, Nilou is a strong advocate of music education and equal opportunities. In 2014, she worked as the site coordinator of the Brooklyn Middle School Jazz Academy, sponsored by Jazz at Lincoln Center. She is currently a Teaching Artist Associate for composition students of the NY Philharmonic Young Composers program, and teaches piano at the Brooklyn Music School.
Nilou is a music graduate and a Global Citizen Scholarship recipient of Goucher College as well as a Mahoney and Caplan Scholar from the University of Oxford. Among her teachers are Lisa Weiss, Laura Kaminsky, Sheila Silver, Daria Semegen, and Daniel Weymouth. She is currently pursuing her doctorate degree in music composition under the supervision of Margaret Schedel at Stony Brook University.
In many ways, the National Sawdust Ensemble has existed for as long as the venue, National Sawdust, has been open. The National Sawdust Ensemble is a natural culmination for the Brooklyn-based musicians who have performed countless times at National Sawdust and, in so doing, have made the space their creative home over the years.
A Pierrot ensemble with percussion, the National Sawdust Ensemble is led by former the cellist of the Kronos Quartet Jeffrey Zeigler. Its aim is to give composers and artists access to the high calibre of musicianship that is native to National Sawdust. The National Sawdust Ensemble will open itself up for collaboration with artists traveling to National Sawdust from all over the globe.
Jeffrey Zeigler was the cellist of the internationally renowned Kronos Quartet for eight seasons. During his tenure, Zeigler had the opportunity to collaborate with a wide range of luminaries, from Henryk Gorecki and Noam Chomsky to Steve Reich and Tom Waits.
Zeigler is the recipient of the Avery Fisher Prize, the Polar Music Prize, the President’s Merit Award from the National Academy of Recorded Arts, the Chamber Music America Richard J Bogomolny National Service Award2 and the Asia Society’s Cultural Achievement Award. Zeigler is the co-chair of the String Department and on the Cello Faculty at the Mannes School for Music.
Russian-American conductor Lidiya Yankovskaya is a champion of Russian masterpieces, operatic rarities, and contemporary works on the leading edge of classical music. As Music Director of Chicago Opera Theater, Lidiya is the only woman to hold that title in a multimillion-dollar opera company in the United States.
Yankovskaya is Founder and Artistic Director of the Refugee Orchestra Project, which proclaims the cultural and societal relevance of refugees through music. She served as Artistic Director of the Boston New Music Festival and Juventas New Music Ensemble, where she led operatic experiments with puppetry, circus acts, and robotic instruments, as well as premieres by more than two dozen composers. Her commitment to exploring the breadth of the symphonic and operatic repertoires has been demonstrated in performances that include the US Russian-language premiere of Nikolai Rimskii-Korsakov’s Snow Maiden and the US premieres of Gaetano Donizetti’s Pia de’ Tolomei, Anton Rubinstein’s Demon, and Nikolai Rimskii-Korsakov’s first symphony.
An alumna of Dallas Opera’s Hart Institute for Women Conductors and Marin Alsop’s Taki Concordia Fellowship, Yankovskaya has been featured in the League of American Orchestras’ Bruno Walter National Conductor Preview and Cabrillo Festival for Contemporary Music, and is a recipient of a 2018 Solti Foundation Career Assistance Award.