Pekka Kuusisto & Nico Muhly

violin & piano

January 5, 2014

Music Room

Artist Images

Two leading voices in the contemporary music scene, Finnish musician Pekka Kuusisto is an internationally renowned violinist and artistic director recognized for his fresh approach to new and traditional repertoire. He is joined by the young American pianist and composer Nico Muhly, who has built a reputation as a versatile composer and collaborator with the likes of Philip Glass and Simone Dinnerstein, as well as musicians outside of the classical genre, such the band Sigur Rós.

This repertoire, it's safe to say, is not designed to highlight instrumental virtuosity and heroics. It is not something to observe from the outside, but rather a well-lit sonic space for the curious listener to move into – like a house with transparent walls, or a particularly well-built and well-tempered chord big enough for everyone to sit inside. We would be ecstatic if our presence would be gradually forgotten during the event, and the members of the audience would be able to concentrate completely on the offerings of their own imaginations, fuelled by the sounds and the art of The Phillips Collection.”

— Pekka Kuusisto

"A violinist whose rare gift is to become rather than perform the music he plays."

The Guardian, February 2012

During the 2013–2014 season, Pekka Kuusisto joins frequent collaborators Britten Sinfonia at the Barbican Centre in directed performances of four Britten works, with choreography by the Richard Alston Dance Company. He also returns to the Cincinnati Symphony, Royal Stockholm Philharmonic, Singapore Symphony, City of Birmingham Symphony and Philharmonia orchestras.

A strong advocate of new music, last season Kuusisto gave the world premiere of Sebastian Fagerlund’s Violin Concerto, written for him and commissioned by the Tampere Philharmonic Orchestra. Other recent highlights have included concerts with the Finnish Radio Symphony, Oslo Philharmonic, Swedish Chamber, Toronto Symphony and Washington’s National Symphony orchestras, as well as the Chamber Orchestra of Europe, Die Deutsche Kammerphilharmonie Bremen and Konzerthausorchester Berlin.

Kuusisto regularly directs ensembles from the violin, including the Australian, London, Irish, Mahler and The Saint Paul chamber orchestras, as well as the Amsterdam Sinfonietta. His recital partners have included Iiro Rantala, Anne Sofie von Otter, Angela Hewitt, Kimmo Pohjonen, Nicolas Altstaedt and Olli Mustonen. He is also a member of quartet-lab, alongside Patricia Kopatchinskaja, Lilli Maijala and Pieter Wispelwey.

Kuusisto has enjoyed a number of prestigious residencies, including at the Aldeburgh Festival, the Concertgebouw’s Robeco Zomerconcerten, and as a ‘Junge Wilde’ artist at the Konzerthaus Dortmund. His most recent CD features Magnus Lindberg’s Violin Concerto with the Tapiola Sinfonietta (for the Ondine label).

Nico Muhly has composed a wide scope of work for ensembles, soloists and organizations including the American Ballet Theater, American Symphony Orchestra, Boston Pops, Carnegie Hall, Chicago Symphony, percussionist Colin Currie, countertenor Iestyn Davies, pianist Simone Dinnerstein, violinist Hilary Hahn, Gotham Chamber Opera,designer/illustrator Maira Kalman, choreographer Benjamin Millepied, Music-Theatre Group, New York City Ballet, New York Philharmonic, Opera Company of Philadelphia, Paris Opéra Ballet, soprano Jessica Rivera, The Royal Ballet, Saint Thomas Church in New York City, Seattle Symphony, and artist Conrad Shawcross. Muhly has also lent his skills as performer, arranger and conductor to Antony and the Johnsons, Bonnie “Prince” Billy, Doveman, Grizzly Bear, Jónsi of the band Sigur Rós, and Usher.

In 2011 Muhly’s first full-scale opera, Two Boys, was commissioned by the Metropolitan Opera, Lincoln Center Theater and the English National Opera. Two Boys, which–with a libretto by Craig Lucas and direction by Bartlett Sher–chronicles the real-life police investigation of an online relationship and ensuing tragedy, premiered in London in spring 2012. A chamber opera, commissioned by the Opera Company of Philadelphia, Music Theatre Group, and the Gotham Chamber Opera premiered in New York in fall 2012. Recently, the Los Angeles Master Chorale and Decca released an entire disc of Muhly’s choral music, A Good Understanding.

The Aurora Orchestra recorded his Seeing is Believing, and with choreographer Stephen Petronio, Muhly created the evening-length I Drink the Air Before Me, both of which were also released on Decca. Among Muhly’s most frequent collaborators are his colleagues at Bedroom Community, an artist-run label headed by Icelandic musician Valgeir Sigurðsson. Bedroom Community was inaugurated in 2007 with the release of Muhly’s first album, Speaks Volumes. Since then, Muhly has released a second album, Mothertongue, and worked closely with labelmates Sigurðsson, Ben Frost, and Sam Amidon on their respective solo releases. In spring 2012, Bedroom Community released Muhly’s three-part Drones & Music, in collaboration with pianist Bruce Brubaker, violinist Pekka Kuusisto, and violist Nadia Sirota. Muhly’s film credits include scores for Joshua (2007), Margaret (2009) and Best Picture nominee The Reader (2008).

Born in Vermont in 1981 and raised in Providence, Rhode Island, Muhly graduated from Columbia University with a degree in English Literature. In 2004, he received a masters in music from the Juilliard School, where he studied under Christopher Rouse and John Corigliano. From his sophomore year of college, Muhly worked for Philip Glass as a MIDI programmer and editor for six years.