New York & Dallas Premieres Highlight 16-17
The Young People’s Chorus of New York City, conducted by Francisco Nuñez, will give the world premiere performances of Robert Xavier Rodríguez’s As: A Surfeit of Similes (2014), for SATB chorus and piano on November 4 at National Sawdust and November 6 in Merkin Hall. As is based on a poem by Norton Juster, author of The Phantom Tollbooth and The Dot and the Line. Also, the YPCNYC has commissioned Rodriguez’s comic Menasherie for SSA chorus and piano, based on animal poems by Ogden Nash. Nuñez will give the premiere on his Radio Radiance series in 16-17.
Another upcoming New York premiere will be The Orchestra of St. Luke’s performing Rodríguez’s The Dot and the Line (2011) for narrator and orchestra at Stern Auditorium at Carnegie Hall on October 14, 2017. 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.
In February, 2017, the Amernet Quartet will give the world premiere of Above All, Women: Four Images of Gustave Klimt for String Quartet. The work was commissioned by The University of Texas at Dallas. The Amernet will also perform Rodriguez’s first string quartet, Meta 4. Following the Dallas premiere, the quartet will also perform the work in Miami and on tour.
Other upcoming performances of Rodriguez’s work will be Bachanale (Dayton Philharmonic, conducted by Neal Gittleman) and the operas La Curandera (CITY Opera, San Diego), The Old Majestic (California State University at San Bernardino) and Frida (Cincinnati Opera, Long Beach Opera). Recent performances include the orchestral Fanfarria Son-Risa (San Antonio Symphony, a repeat of last season’s premiere, commissioned by the SASO) and the Agnus Dei for Mozart’s Mass in C-Minor (School for Music and the Performing Arts in Mannheim, Germany). Chamber performances include 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).
Performances in the 15-16 season included the New York premiere of a new version of Rodríguez’s Xochiquetzal for violin and piano on Victoria Bond’s Cutting Edge series at Symphony Space. The University of Texas at Dallas commissioned the work in 2015 for a world premiere on February 19, 2016 by Chloé Trevor, violin and Jeff Lankov, piano, who also performed in New York. The original version of Xochiquetzal (2011), for violin and percussion sextet, was commissioned by the New England Conservatory, SUNY Onondaga, UNT and SMU. The premiere was in Boston in 2014, followed by performances in Syracuse, Dallas and Denton. A recording of Xochiquetzal performed by the NEC Percussion Ensemble, Frank Epstein, director, with Nicholas Kitchen, violin is in preparation. For a video of the violin/piano version: see video.
Other recent performances featured two productions with multiple performances of the opera Frida (Michigan Opera Theater, Microscopic Opera of Pittsburgh). Reviews of the MOT production include, “The best elements of musical theater and opera were on spectacular display in Michigan Opera Theater’s staging of Robert Xavier Rodriguez’s passionate 1991 opera Frida…Like Frida’s paintings and persona, Rodriguez’s opera is emphatic and bold…Emblematic of the stylistic flexibility that has earned comparisons to Kurt Weill and George Gershwin…” (Jennifer Goltz, Opera News).
Rodríguez’s most recent recordings include Tango Amor and Three Lullabies by Enric Madriguera, guitar, and Música, por un tiempo, commissioned and performed by the San Antonio-based SOLI Ensemble and a CD of RXR solo piano music by pianist Jeff Lankov after his all-Rodríguez piano recital at Weill Hall at Carnegie Hall. The CD contains Caprichos, Estampie, Semi-Suite, Fantasia Lussuriosa, Hot Buttered Rumba and Seven Deadly Sequences. There is also a new CD of De Rerum Natura, conducted by the composer and commissioned by The University of Texas at Dallas for the inauguration of the university’s Edith O’Donnell Arts & Technology Building. All four recordings are on the Albany label.
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, most recently, the San Antonio Symphony. He resides in Dallas, where he currently 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.