POTSDAM — The New York State Council on the Arts has awarded an Individual Artist grant to the Orchestra of Northern New York on behalf of composer Gregory Wanamaker, who has been commissioned to create a composition focusing on the north country.
The orchestra plans to debut the commissioned new orchestral work, “Still Life in Motion,” in the spring of 2022.
“The Orchestra of Northern New York is such an essential part of our cultural and artistic identity here in St. Lawrence County and the Adirondacks,” Mr. Wanamaker said in a news release. “I am so grateful to the New York State Council on the Arts for supporting this wonderful new collaboration with ONNY to create a work for the north country about our beautiful region.”
Combining athletic virtuosity and lyrical expressionism, Mr. Wanamaker’s music has been described as “pure gold, shot through with tenderness and grace” (San Francisco Chronicle), “achingly beautiful” (Palm Beach Daily News) and “a technical tour de force” (Fanfare).
Mr. Wanamaker is professor of composition at the Crane School of Music at SUNY Potsdam where he has served since 1997.
“I have always been intrigued by Wanamaker’s compositional style as well as his varied palette of instrumental color, subtle nuances and relationships of rhythmic complexity,” said ONNY Music Director and Conductor Kenneth Andrews. “We are excited to premiere his original work as part of our 2021-2022 season of live concerts.”
Mr. Wanamaker’s earliest musical training began at age 6 in professional summer stock theater companies, and continued through both schooled and self-guided explorations through the American folk music of the 1960s, bebop and free jazz, and Western and global classical music of the late 20th century.
Prolific in all musical media from solo instrumental works to music for chorus and orchestra including multimedia works, his best-known compositions are his chamber works that exploit unique timbral characteristics and technical extensions of wind instruments. To date, his virtuosic “Duo Sonata” for clarinet and saxophone has received over 500 performances worldwide and is featured on five commercial recordings.
He has closely collaborated with visual artists Carrie Mae Weems and Meggie George, choreographers Cheryl Wilkins-Mitchell and Guy Thorne, and more frequently the writer and director Garth Bardsley with whom he has created several works from intimate art songs to large works for chorus and orchestra. In addition, he created effects music for the film “Sharknado 5: Global Swarming,” produced by The Asylum for release on the Syfy Channel.
Previous commissioned works were supported in part by a National Endowment for the Arts 2011 Access to Artistic Excellence Grant. He also is the recipient of 2012 Individual Artist Commission from The New York State Council on the Arts in addition to awards from ASCAP, The National Association of Composers/USA and Britten-On-The-Bay.
Mr. Wanamaker’s recent album “Light and Shadows, Waves and Time” features 21 musicians from around the globe in world premiere recordings of eight of his recent chamber works.
Gregory Wanamaker publishes his own music, which is available exclusively through his website at www.gregorywanamaker.com.