Composer Tyshawn Sorey’s prodigious output: concertos, quartets, song cycles, and more

Posted on: January 6, 2021

Xian Zhang conducts the Detroit Symphony Orchestra and violinist Jennifer Koh in Tyshawn Sorey’s For Marcos Balter, November 2020. Photo by Sarah Smarch

For composer Tyshawn Sorey, “the final two months of 2020 alone brought the premieres of a pair of concerto-ish works, one for violin and one for cello, as well as a fresh iteration of ‘Autoschediasms,’ his series of conducted ensemble improvisations,” writes Zachary Woolfe in Friday’s (1/1) New York Times. “Mills College, where Mr. Sorey is composer in residence, streamed his solo piano set. Opera Philadelphia filmed a … version of his song sequence ‘Cycles of My Being,’ about Black masculinity and racial hatred. JACK Quartet did ‘Everything Changes’ for the Library of Congress, alongside the violin solo ‘For Conrad Tao.’ Da Camera, of Houston, put online a 2016 performance of ‘Perle Noire,’ a tribute to Josephine Baker.… Sorey has been on everyone’s radar at least since winning a MacArthur ‘genius’ grant in 2017, but the shock to the performing arts since late winter brought him suddenly to the fore as an artist at the nexus of the music industry’s artistic and social concerns…. He works at the blurry and productive boundary of improvised (‘jazz’) and notated (‘classical’) music, a composer who is also a performer…. Isn’t it a relief to talk about a 40-year-old composer with the immoderate enthusiasm we generally reserve for the pillars of the classical canon?”