On 12 October, the renowned New York conservatory Juilliard hosted a wide-ranging discussion on mentoring in composition, followed by performances of new music by Kaija Saariaho, Esa-Pekka Salonen and Vasco Mendonça.
Saariaho served as music mentor in the 2014-2015 Rolex Mentor and Protégé Arts Initiative, working alongside Portuguese newcomer Mendonça. Salonen was a member of the Rolex Advisory Board that suggested Saariaho.
More than 500 students, invited guests and the public listened as Ara Guzelimian, Dean and Provost of Juilliard, moderated a lively and entertaining talk with the three composers about their early influences, role models and the importance of listening to the next generation of composers.
The talk was followed by invigorating and impassioned performances of the three composers’ works by AXIOM, the school’s contemporary music ensemble.
AXIOM performed Mendonça’s Fight/Flight/Freeze (2014), which was conducted by the ensemble’s founding director and Juilliard faculty member Jeffrey Milarsky. Ensemble members also performed Saariaho’s Light and Matter (2014); and Salonen’s Homunculus (2007). After each piece, the composer came up to the stage to share a bow with the young musicians in front of a rapt and enthusiastic audience.
“This was an extraordinary evening, and one that demonstrated perfectly the essence of mentoring,” said Rebecca Irvin, Head of Philanthropy at Rolex. “Like Juilliard, we believe in sharing knowledge with the next generation and promoting artistry of the highest levels.”