Close Encounters with Music Presents A Free Afternoon with Young Composers

A Photograph of Lichetenstein Center for the Performing Arts

(Pittsfield, MA) Emerging musicians Simon Brown, Brian Simalchik and 12 year old wunderkind Graham Cohen present their compositions Sunday, May 13 in an intimate setting at the Lichtenstein Center for the Arts. Conversations and music begin at 4 pm, and reflect on inspiration, influences and role models; the creative process; tonality and post-tonality, and how to find one’s artistic voice in a multi-directional anything-goes age. These young spokesmen will be addressing and demonstrating the future of classical music as they explore various compositional streams. The discussion and musical selections are part of the Close Encounters With Music series “Conversations With…”

The event is free and open to the public. Light refreshments follow the panel discussion.
The Lichtenstein Center for the Arts is located at 28 Renne Avenue, Pittsfield, MA.


Simon Brown is the recipient of a Kellerman Foundation Grant for Music and the Koussevitsy Award for Excellence in Music. He earned a BA in Composition and Classical Guitar from Westfield State College, and graduated from Berkshire Community College. He currently teaches cello in a group setting, working with underprivileged elementary school students, in an El Sistema-inspired music program. Recent projects include Witch, a piece commissioned by the Berkshire Music School Orchestra. “I decided to write a fun, pulsing piece in three different meters- 4/4, 5/8 and 6/8. The effect is rhythmic cacophony, and the dissonant melody adds to the intense, creepy effect.”

Graham Cohen, age 12, was the 2009 Charlotte Bergen Scholarship Award recipient and ASCAP Morton Gould Award winner for his composition Infernal Fantasy. Since then ASCAP has honored Graham for his full orchestral work Hurricane Abigale and Exotica for 13 Instruments. Other compositions include Earth Symphony and Winds Off the Atlantic. He founded the group Quartet 48, and performed as principal violist for the New Jersey Youth Symphony Sinfonia. In 2010, he was accepted into the Juilliard Pre-College for composition and viola. His website informs us that “I also enjoy my cat, cooking, weather, and old cartoons.”

Brian Simalchik is a composer with interests ranging from American experimental music and minimalism, to rock n’ roll and noise. He received the 2010 Hubbard Hutchinson Memorial Fellowship in Music at Williams College, where he graduated with highest honors in Music. He is currently pursuing a Master’s degree in composition at The Hartt School, where he co-directs the Composers Ensemble. He has collaborated in other disciplines, including theatre, dance and poetry. In November 2011 he wrote incidental music for a production of Henrik Ibsen’s Ghosts. As artist-in residence at Mass MOCA he presented original works with Roomful of Teeth. He has also had premieres by the Berkshire Symphony and Williams Symphonic Winds. His score for the documentary Child of Hope: Darfur Dreams of Peace won best soundtrack at the 2008 Kent Film Festival. American avant-garde. “Trade Winds” also includes Bulgarian pianist Emma Tahmizian playing Ravel’s Mother Goose and Leo Ornstein’s remarkable A la Chinoise, while Israeli violinist Hagai Shaham offers Debussy’s pentatonic-inflected Sonata and Fritz Kreisler’s Tambourin Chinois. He also performs a work from another ancient tradition-Joseph Achron’s haunting Hebrew Melody.


Saturday, May 19, 6 PM: “Daedalus Quartet-Beethoven, Schubert & Berg”
Presented by Close Encounters With Music
An intriguing all-Viennese program. Schubert’s Quartettsatz; Alban Berg’s groundbreaking Lyric Suite; “Razumovsky,” Beethoven’s Opus 59 No. 1 in F Major. Min-Young Kim, violin; Ara Gregorian, violin; Jessica Thompson, viola; Raman Ramakrishnan, cello. Mahaiwe Performing Arts Center, Great Barrington, MA. Tickets $40/$30. Box Office: 413.528.0100.

Saturday, June 2, 6 PM : “The Roaring Twenties-Berlin, Paris, New York.”
Close Encounters With Music Season Finale at Tanglewood
Celebrate the golden age of jazz and cabaret, a period exemplified by experimentalism and decadence. Songs by Kurt Weill, Hanns Eisler, Cole Porter and Gershwin; Erwin Shulhoff’s Jazz Suite; and Entartete composers whose “degenerate” music. Jennifer Rivera, mezzo-soprano; Will Ferguson, tenor; James Tocco, piano; Yehuda Hanani, cello. Tanglewood’s Ozawa Hall, Lenox, MA. Tickets $50 Orchestra/$40 Balconies. 800.843.0778;


Close Encounters With Music stands at the intersection of music, art and the vast richness of Western culture. Entertaining, erudite and lively commentary from founder and Artistic Director Yehuda Hanani puts the composers and their times in perspective to enrich the concert experience. Since the inception of its Commissioning Project in 2001, CEWM has worked with the most distinguished composers of our time—Paul Schoenfield, Osvaldo Golijov, Lera Auerbach, Jorge Martin, John Musto, among others—to create important new works that have already taken their place in the chamber music canon and on CD. A core of brilliant performers includes pianists James Tocco, Adam Neiman, Walter Ponce and William Wolfram; violinists Shmuel Ashkenasi, Yehonatan Berick, Vadim Gluzman and Toby Appel; harpsichordist Lionel Party; clarinetists Alexander Fiterstein, Charles Neidich; vocalists Dawn Upshaw, Amy Burton, Jennifer Aylmer, Robert White, Lucille Beer and William Sharp; the Vermeer, Amernet, Muir, Manhattan, Avalon, Hugo Wolf quartets, and Cuarteto Latinoamericano; and guitarist Eliot Fisk. Choreographer David Parsons and actors Richard Chamberlain, Jane Alexander and Sigourney Weaver have also appeared as guests, weaving narration and dance into the fabric of the programs.