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NYWC January 2024 Spotlight: Stefania de Kenessey

We are excited to continue our collaboration with the New York Women Composers. This month, we spotlight composer Stefania de Kenessey.

NYWC Spotlight Stefania de Kenessey MICROVIDS for cello and piano

Bio (abridged from Stefania de Kenessey’s website):

Stefania de Kenessey’s music has been heard throughout New York City, from Carnegie Hall and Lincoln Center to Joe’s Pub and LaMama; internationally, it has been performed in more than 35 countries, from Australia to Venezuela. Her output ranges from choral, vocal, and operatic pieces to chamber and orchestral work, as well as scores for documentary films, theater, and dance companies. She has written concertos for such virtuosos as trumpeter Chris Gekker and flutist Elizabeth Mann; she has had premieres with St. Luke’s Chamber Ensemble, Singapore Symphony, Manhattan Chamber Orchestra, and the Absolute Ensemble, conducted by Kristjan Järvi.

De Kenessey is committed to helping women composers and musicians achieve parity in an unequal, biased world. She serves on the advisory board of The New Historia, an organization dedicated to recovering the unmarked legacies of women throughout the world. For The New School’s 100th anniversary, de Kenessey scored The Women’s Legacy Project, honoring a group of long-forgotten, newly-discovered women who were central to establishing the university. She is also the founding president of the International Alliance for Women in Music.

Stefania de Kenessey holds degrees from Yale (BA) and Princeton (MFA, PhD), and she has taught at The New School as a Professor of Music.

Featured Work: Microvids for cello and piano

COMPOSITION DETAILS

  • Title: Microvids
  • Composer: Stefania de Kenessey
  • Year of Composition: cello version 2022
  • Instrumentation: cello and piano
  • Movements: 19 short miniatures
  • Duration of Work: approximately 14’
  • Number of Measures: 1. Out of place (4); 2. Skilling stones (9); 3. Like a rock (17); 4. Reach for the sky (7); 5. Standing tall (9); 6. Got it (18); 7. On fire (16); 8. the grand opening (10); 9. Running on empty (21); 10. Just joking (16); 11. Pure joy (17); 12. Bursting out (17, with repeat); 13. Dream away (18 with repeat); 14. Hurry up (37 with repeat); 15. Clouds (37); 16. In a moment (21); 17. Fooled you (22); 18. Hiding in plain sight (16); 19. That’s what you think (21)
  • Number of pages: 25
  • Tempo: varies for each miniature
  • Difficulty Level: varies for each miniature – from advanced beginner through professional
  • Highest Position Reached: thumb
  • Techniques Employed: Standard (includes pizzicato, harmonics, col legno, sul ponticello, quadruple stops)
  • Publisher: Self-published (DeKenessey Productions)
  • Where to Purchase the Score: email the composer (digital or hard copy available)
  • Cost of Score*: $10

Recording

This is the piano version, recorded by pianist Donna Weng Friedman. Please let us know if you record this work. Thank you.

Program Notes

Isolated and alone during the height of the COVID-19 pandemic, sitting at my piano, I was thinking more and more often about young musicians of every age, background, and ability, trying to imagine their anxiety, their worry, and their sense of confusion. What were they doing?  What were they thinking? What were they feeling?  More importantly, what could I do to help?

The first result was Microvids, 19 miniatures for piano, intended for beginner students of all ages.  The title is a nod to Bartók’s Mikrokosmos, fondly remembered from my childhood, but the music is transposed to our own age and culture, with short pieces that are rhythmically compelling, musically tuneful, and – more importantly – emotionally uplifting.

The second version of Microvids, which I created in 2022, adds the beautiful, haunting, expressive sounds of the cello (my favorite string instrument….) – this duo version was intended for the Manchester Music Festival and was premiered on May 7, 2022, by pianist Pamela Haynes and cellist Robert Lynn.

The piano-only version has been recorded by my friend, the superb pianist Donna Weng Friedman (who also had the idea of adding descriptive titles to each miniature) on a hand-crafted Fazioli concert grand piano at Klavierhaus in New York City.  In the pianist’s words: “I want listening audiences to hear how new music can capture your heart with soaring melodies, heartbreakingly beautiful harmonies, and exciting passages – just like the great classics we all know and love”. (Broadway World). This version of Microvids received its radio premiere on December 30, 2021, on WPRB-FM 103.3 as part of Marvin Rosen’s “Classical Discoveries – Viva 21st Century”, a 24-hour marathon of contemporary music. – Stefania de Kenessey

A Cellist’s Note

In addition to being a fantastic component of a standard cello recital, Microvids would work well in a performance by a cello studio that includes cellists of different levels. However, due to the brevity of each movement, it would work best with all of the cellists on the stage at once, with applause held until the end of the entire work. If played by different cellists, this could be included in a cello ensemble performance where all players are already on stage.

Stefania de Kenessey’s Other Work with a Prominent Cello Part

  • Traveling Light for piano trio

Links


A Collaboration with the New York Women Composers (NYWC)

The NYWC series at the Cello Museum was created to showcase its members who have composed various pieces for cello, informing cellists seeking new music to add to their repertoire, and helping listeners find new favorites. Many thanks to the NYWC for this wonderful collaboration.

Read other installments in the series here.


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*Prices are accurate at the time of article publication, but the Cello Museum cannot take responsibility for subsequent price changes.

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