Two World Premieres & New Frida Production
World premieres of Robert Xavier Rodríguez’s music in 18-19 will include Romance with a Double Bass for narrator, contrabass and piano with Gary Karr, contrabass, and Harmon Lewis, piano on February 8, 2019 at the University of Texas at Dallas. Karr commissioned the work, which is based on a comic short story by Anton Chekhov. Another premiere this season will be Rodríguez’s Menasherie for SSA chorus and piano, based on animal poems by Ogden Nash. The Young People’s Chorus of New York City commissioned the work, and Francisco Nuñez will conduct the premiere on the YPC’s Radio Radiance series.
In March, 2019, the Florida Grand Opera will give six performances of Rodríguez’s opera Frida, based on the life of Mexican painter Frida Kahlo. The Miami run will be the seventeenth production of the opera, which was premiered in Philadelphia in 1991. The New York Times named it the “best opera/musical theater of 1991.” Previous presenters have included the Brooklyn Academy of Music Next Wave Festival, American Repertory Theater in Boston, the Houston Grand Opera, Long Beach Opera, Michigan Opera Theatre, Cincinnati Opera, Festival de Mayo in Guadalajara, the Vienna Schauspielhaus and productions in Recklinghausen, Nordhausen and throughout the United States.
In the 17-18 season, Edwin Outwater and the Orchestra of St. Luke’s gave the New York premiere of Robert Xavier Rodríguez’s The Dot and the Line (2011) for narrator and orchestra at Stern Auditorium at Carnegie Hall on October 14, 2017. John Lithgow, 2017 Emmy Award-Winner, was the narrator. Commissioned jointly by the Dallas Symphony and Carnegie Hall, the work is based on the classic children’s book of the same name by Norton Juster. Originally for narrator and chamber ensemble (2005), the orchestral version had its world premiere in Dallas in 2012 with Jamie Bernstein, Narrator. A recording by Bernstein and the Music from Copland House Players is in preparation.
Last season also saw the world premiere of Above All, Women: Four Images of Gustav Klimt for String Quartet. The work was commissioned by The University of Texas at Dallas for performance by the Amernet Quartet. The Amernet subsequently recorded Above All, Women, along with Rodriguez’s first string quartet, Meta 4. The recording was released on the Albany label along with Xochiquetzal, for violin and piano, performed by Chloé Trevor and Jeff Lankov. Critical acclaim for the recording includes: “Transcendental music… Ignore it at your own peril… Robert Xavier Rodríguez writes expressively and approachably. His music is satisfyingly complex, both texturally and emotionally… Rodríguez is clearly a major voice; his music demands exploration.” Fanfare Magazine
Other recent performances have included Lull-A-Bear by the SOLI Ensemble (San Antonio and Dallas), Hot Buttered Rumba by the Plano Symphony, touring performances of Tango Amor and Tango Sueño by Enric Madriguera, guitarist, in China and Spain, and Tango from Osgood Variations by Diana Ligeti and Nathan Brandwine, in the Chapelle de la Trinité in Fontainebleau and at the Alliance Française in New York.
Opera performances in the 16-17 season included two productions of Frida (Long Beach Opera and Cincinnati Opera). There were also productions of Tango and Monkey See, Monkey Do(California State University at San Bernardino). Additionally, Tango had multiple performances at the Aston Magna Festival in Massachusetts. Other recent performances include the orchestral Fanfarria Son-Risa (San Antonio Symphony) and the Agnus Dei for Mozart’s Mass in C-Minor (School for Music and the Performing Arts in Mannheim, Germany). Chamber performances include Xochiquetzal for violin and percussion sextet (Adams State University; Chloé Trevor, Violin); Tango Amor and Three Lullabies (UT Dallas plus tours in Japan and China; Enric Madriguera, guitar) and Música, por un tiempo (SOLI Ensemble on the Chamber Music America Showcase in New York).
Earlier recordings of Rodríguez’s music include an all-Rodríguez CD on the First Edition label, in conjunction with the Meet the Composer/Exxon Orchestra Residency Program, in which Rodríguez served as Composer-in-Residence with the Dallas Symphony Orchestra. The CD features Oktoechos (Dallas Symphony, conducted by Eduardo Mata), Favola Boccaccesca (Louisville Symphony, conducted by Lawrence Leighton Smith) and The Song of Songs (Voices of Change, conducted by the composer). The CD is part of a three-disc release featuring works of Rodríguez, Joan Tower and Christopher Rouse. Two earlier Albany releases feature Flight, the Story of Wilbur and Orville Wright, text by Sukey Smith, for narrator and orchestra, with the Dayton Philharmonic Orchestra, conductor Neal Gittleman and actress Allison Janney (The West Wing) narrator and Tango, with Paul Sperry, tenor, and members of the San Diego Symphony, conducted by the composer.
Rodríguez’s music has been performed by conductors such as Sir Neville Marriner, Antal Dorati, Eduardo Mata, Andrew Litton, James DePriest, Sir Raymond Leppard, Keith Lockhart and Leonard Slatkin and such organizations as the New York City Opera, the National Opera of Mexico, Brooklyn Academy of Music, Boston Repertory Theater, American Music Theater Festival (now Prince Theater), Dallas Opera, Houston Grand Opera, Pennsylvania Opera Theater, Michigan Opera Theatre, Orlando Opera, The Aspen Music Festival, The Juilliard Focus Series, The Israel Philharmonic Orchestra, Mexico City Philharmonic, Toronto Radio Orchestra, The Baltimore, Dallas, Houston, San Antonio, Knoxville, Indianapolis, St. Louis, Pittsburgh, Milwaukee, Boston and Chicago Symphonies, The Los Angeles Philharmonic, National Symphony, Los Angeles Chamber Orchestra, Louisville Orchestra and Cleveland Orchestra. Rodríguez’s chamber works have been performed in London, Paris, Dijon, Monte Carlo, Berlin, Stockholm, Copenhagen, Edinburgh, The Hague and other musical centers.
His music is published exclusively by G. Schirmer, and twenty CDs of his work have been recorded on the Newport, Crystal, Orion, Gasparo, Urtext, Pro Arte Musicae, ACA, CRI (Grammy nomination), Albany, First Edition and Naxos labels. Rodríguez has served as Composer-in-Residence of the Dallas Symphony and the San Antonio Symphony. He holds an endowed Chair of Art & Aesthetic Studies and is Director of the Musica Nova ensemble at The University of Texas at Dallas. He is also active as a guest lecturer and conductor.