Composer John Carbon
Born in Chicago in 1951, John Carbon studied composition at Rice University and at the University of California at Santa Barbara, where his teachers were Thea Musgrave, Paul Cooper, and Peter Racine Fricker. He is now Professor of Music at Franklin and Marshall College in Lancaster, Pennsylvania.
Carbon's music--which has been gaining prominence in the past few years due to an increasing number of high-profile performances and recordings--includes two operas, Marie Laveau and Benjamin, along with many choral, orchestral, vocal, and chamber works.
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Carbon has a special flair for the virtuosity and drama needed for concertos, and has completed works in this genre for clarinet, violin, piano, and most recently double bass.
Mr. Carbon's work has been performed in New York at Merkin Concert Hall, Carnegie Hall and Avery Fisher and Alice Tully Halls at Lincoln Center, Boston's Symphony Hall, and Prague's Smetana Hall. Premieres of Carbon works have been presented by the New York Chamber Symphony, the Czech Radio Orchestra, and the Alaria Chamber Ensemble of New York.
Rhapsody for Clarinet and Orchestra (premiered under Gerard Schwarz at Avery Fisher Hall in November of 1997) was hailed by New York Times critic Allen Kozinn for,
"its demandingly agile clarinet line that wove its way through a variegated orchestral fabric .... rich in coloristic effects of the sort that create a sense of depth rather than artificial glitter."
Recordings of Carbon's music include his Violin Concerto (1995), released on Three American Concertos (MMC 2059), performed by Violinist Peter Zazofsky with Gerhardt Zimmermann conducting the Warsaw National Philharmonic Orchestra. Fanfare critic Robert Maxham praised the concerto for the finale's
"dazzling kinetic virtuosity," and in American Record Guide Bill Faucett commented on the concerto's
"....many moments of genuine beauty..."
Also becoming well known is the Clarinet Concerto
(1994), in a spectacular and highly-acclaimed performance with soloist Richard Stoltzman on MMC 2031 with the Warsaw Philharmonic, and Notturno for Trumpet, Harp, and Strings
(1994), performed by Gerard Schwarz (with Jeff Silberschlag on trumpet) and the Seattle Symphony on Delos. (New Yorkers had a chance to hear Notturno
live when it was performed by George Manahan leading the New York Chamber Symphony in Alice Tully Hall at Lincoln Center in April, 1999).
Other recordings include two orchestral works--Hommage à Trois
(1992), played by the Slovak Radio Symphony under Szymon Kawalla on Vienna Modern Masters 3011, and Inner Voices
(1993) on MMC 2003 with the Warsaw Philharmonic under Robert Black--and a chamber work for flute and guitar, Paseos
(1995) on CGS 1024223.
Performances have included several premieres by Ensemble Giverny, with members of the Portland Symphony Orchestra, at the Portland Art Museum in 1997, as part of the release of a widely broadcast compact disc recording released by Moonbridge Recordings, Waterlilies; Musical Visions of Monet, in conjunction with the opening of the museum's exhibit centering on the late paintings of Monet. The much-acclaimed chamber music group Alaria, with guest clarinetist Doris Hall-Gulati performed a new work, Dreamspiral, by Mr. Carbon in Weill Recital Hall at Carnegie Hall in 1999 as part of their chamber music series. Premieres have included those by the Philadelphia Trio in Weiss Center for the Performing Arts at Bucknell University of Do Not Go Gentle (1996) and A Benjamin Songbook (2001), a new chamber music setting of arias for the composer's opera Benjamin (1987), in Merkin Concert Hall, New York City. Additional performances have included those by the Philadelphia-based Network for New Music, Trio Fedele, cellist Stephen Balderston, pianist Edith Orloff, and an appointment as American composer in residence at the 2nd Annual Santa Barbara Chamber Music Festival in June, 2004.
In July, 2002, MMC Recordings released John Carbon, a recording of the composer's Piano Concerto (1999), Rhapsody for Clarinet and Chamber Orchestra (1997), and a chamber work for clarinet, viola and piano, Ghost Town Sketches (1995), with conductors Vladmír Valék, Maron Alsop, Gerard Schwarz and David Stock conducting the Czech Radio Orchestra, Concordia Orchestra of New York City, the New York Chamber Symphony, and the Pittsburgh New Music Ensemble, with soloists pianist William Koseluk, violinist Claire Chan, clarinetist Doris Hall-Gulati, and members of the Pittsburgh New Music Ensemble. Reviewer Jack Sullivan, in the American Record Guide, commented:
"This is an excellent showcase for a worthy composer."
critic Peter Burwasser wrote:
"In all of the music here, Carbon's masterful technique is a marvel to behold...an extraordinarily talented and compelling composer."
2005-2006 recording releases included Rasgos, for violin, harp and winds (1993), performed by Claire Chan with Concordia Orchestra, conducted by Maron Alsop, and the premiere recording of Endangered Species, a new doublebass concerto (2001) commissioned by bassist Richard Fredrickson for an MMC release. This work was recorded by the Slovak Radio Orchestra in Bratislava, Slovakia, in November, 2002. Performances in 2006 included a fully staged production of Benjamin (composed 1987, revised 2006), the composer's comic opera with libretto by Sarah White at Franklin & Marshall College as part of the National 300th Franklin Celebration. Zimbel Recordings released a 2-CD recording of the opera in fall, 2007.
In 2009, Mr. Carbon gave a Faculty Master Class in composition at Diller-Quaile School in New York City. Five Ghost Tangos (2007), for soprano sax, viola, bass clarinet and piano, was given its third perormance in February at a St. Cecilia benefit concert in Lancaster, Pennsylvania. Other performances included the first full performance of Letters from Abigail (2002), a song cycle for soprano, cello and piano, based on letters written by Abigail Adams, which will be performed by soprano Sarah Wiggins at the University of Southern Illinois, Carbondale.
Recent activities include Zimbel Recording's 2012 CD release of John Carbon, Played by Pianist Steven Graff. Also in 2012, Trio Clavino premiered and performed Trio Kinetica
at the Mozarteum in Salzburg, as well several locations in Germany and China. Pianist Steven Graff performed Small Town Sketches at Hunter College in New York City and he will premiere Fantasy-Nocturne for piano and orchestra in July of 2013 by Allegro the chamber orchestra of Lancaster, Pennsylvania. In September of 2013 tubist Matthew Brown and pianist Maria Corley will premiere When it was Raining
on the Sound Horizons concert series at Franklin & Marshall College in Lancaster, Pa. Present work includes the composition of new works for a Zimbel Recordings CD release of John Carbon's clarinet music.