Philadelphia Orchestra Commissions Work to Celebrate Ben Franklin's 300th Birthday

  • October 11, 2004

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The Philadelphia Orchestra Association, in partnership with the Philadelphia Chapter of the American Composers Forum, today announced the commission of a work for The Philadelphia Orchestra in celebration of the 300th anniversary of Benjamin Franklin's birth. American composer Daniel Kellogg, a Young Concert Artists Composer-in-Residence, was awarded the commission. Kellogg was chosen from among 110 applicants by a panel comprised of five composers and Philadelphia Orchestra Director of Education and Community Partnerships Sarah Johnson. Philadelphia Orchestra Music Director Christoph Eschenbach made the final selection. The resulting work will receive its world premiere in Nov. 2005 and will be performed on the Orchestra's subscription series. In addition, the commission will contain a significant educational component. The commission is made possible through the generous support of the Neubauer Family Foundation and The Pew Charitable Trusts. "Benjamin Franklin was one of America's great creators, and we want to recognize his legacy with another new creation," said Philadelphia Orchestra Music Director Christoph Eschenbach. "We're pleased to be working with such a young and gifted composer as Daniel Kellogg and look forward to hearing the outcome of this commission."

"The occasion of Benjamin Franklin's 300th birthday is an exciting opportunity for The Philadelphia Orchestra to join with a consortium of Philadelphia organizations in a project that will have international scope," remarked Philadelphia Orchestra Association President Joseph H. Kluger.

"I am truly honored to write a piece for Christoph Eschenbach and The Philadelphia Orchestra to commemorate Benjamin Franklin," said composer Daniel Kellogg, a graduate of Philadelphia's Curtis Institute of Music. "The possibilities for artistic response to such an individual are limitless, and I am thrilled to take up the challenge. I hope the music will capture his curiosity in all things, his flirtatious fun, his wit, and the spirit of the amazing time in which America was born."

The 300th anniversary of Benjamin Franklin's birth, Jan. 17, 2006, will be the culmination of a multi-year, international celebration. One of the Founding Fathers of the United States, Franklin, a self-made man and self-taught genius from a humble background, became a world-renowned scientist, diplomat, essayist, and inventor whose name and accomplishments inspire people worldwide. The Federal Benjamin Franklin Tercentenary Commission, along with a consortium of five Franklin-related Philadelphia cultural institutions (the American Philosophical Society, the Franklin Institute, the Library Company of Philadelphia, the Philadelphia Museum of Art, and the University of Pennsylvania) have joined forces to coordinate a major traveling exhibition, special events, and educational programs to commemorate the occasion.

During his tenure as a Young Concert Artists Composer-in- Residence, composer Daniel Kellogg has been awarded the Charles Ives Fellowship from the American Academy of Arts and Letters, as well as the 2003 ASCAP Foundation Morton Gould Young Composer Award for his work and the dust shall sing like a bird, which was commissioned by Young Concert Artists. His compositions have been performed at New York's 92nd Street Y, Carnegie Hall's Weill Recital Hall, and the Kennedy Center, and have been broadcast on National Public Radio's Performance Today. His piece Divinum Mysterium was recently released to critical acclaim on the new music group eighth blackbird's CD Beginnings, on the Cedille Records label. A native and current resident of Connecticut, Mr. Kellogg holds a bachelor of music degree from the Curtis Institute of Music and a master of music degree from the Yale School of Music, where he is currently a candidate for a doctor of musical arts degree. His teachers have included Don Freund, Ned Rorem, Jennifer Higdon, Joseph Schwantner, Ezra Laderman, and Martin Bresnick.

The Philadelphia Chapter of the American Composers Forum supports composers and develops new markets for their music. Through granting, commissioning, and performance programs, the Chapter provides composers at all stages of their careers with valuable resources for professional and artistic development. By linking communities with composers and performers, the Chapter fosters a demand for new music, enriches communities, and helps develop the next generation of composers, musicians, and music patrons.

Founded in 1900, The Philadelphia Orchestra has distinguished itself as one of the leading orchestras in the world through a century of acclaimed performances, historic international tours, best-selling recordings, and its unprecedented record of innovation in recording technologies and outreach. With only six music directors piloting The Philadelphia Orchestra through its first century, the ensemble has maintained an unparalleled cohesiveness and unity in artistic leadership.

This rich tradition is carried on by Christoph Eschenbach, who began his tenure as the Orchestra's seventh music director in Sept. 2003. Concluding an acclaimed first season together that saw the launch of the Orchestra's first-ever multi-year cycle of Mahler's complete symphonies, Maestro Eschenbach and the Orchestra toured the music capitals of Europe in the spring of 2004.

The Philadelphia Orchestra annually touches the lives of more than 1 million music lovers worldwide through its performances (more than 300 concerts and other presentations each year), publications, recordings, and broadcasts. A major winter subscription season is presented in Philadelphia each year from Sept. to May, in addition to education and community partnership programs. Its summer schedule includes a month-long outdoor season in Philadelphia at The Mann Center for the Performing Arts, free concerts in local neighborhoods, and a three-week residency each August at the Saratoga Performing Arts Center in upstate New York.

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