February 13, 2013. The Boston Metro Opera has announced that "Rahab" by composer/librettist Jesse Ayers has won the BMO's Concert Award. "Rahab" is a one-woman, surround-sound concert story for mezzo soprano and symphonic winds or orchestra. It tells the Old Testament story of Rahab, a prostitute in ancient Jericho, who along with her ralatives, were the only survivors of the famed battle of Jericho. Boston Metro Opera will present "Rahab" sometime this coming season.
Jesse Ayers has been commissioned to compose a new work fo wind symphony, organ, and narrator by the Wisconsin Evangelical Lutheran Synod National High School Honors Band. The band will be comprised of the best band students nationally from the WELS high schools and will premiere Ayers's new work at their annual weekend festival to be held March 17, 2013, at Martin Luther College in New Ulm, Minnesota.
The Yakima Symphony Orchestra and Chorus under the direction of Maestro Lawrence Golan will perform Jesse Ayers's Jericho May 19, 2012, at 7:30 p.m. at the Capital Theater, Yakima, WA. The work, which tells the story of the ancient Battle of Jericho, is a surround-sound, story piece that employs narration and unorthodox audience participation. Composer Ayers will be present at the performance.
The Windiana Concert Band, under the direction of Dr. Jeffrey Scott Doebler, will present a program on November 17, 2011, of the three large Biblical works by composer Jesse Ayers. The works to be performed are and they gathered on Mount Carmel, Jericho, and Rahab. Mezzo-soprano Beth Ray Westlund will sing the role of Rahab.
The concert will be at the Memorial Opera House, Vaparaiso, Indiana, on Novementer 17, 2011 at 7:30 p.m. local time. FOR TICKETS CALL 219-548-9137.
May 16, 2011. The American Prize has announced that Jesse Ayers' The Passion of John Brown has been named winner of the 2011 American Prize for Orchestral Composition. The American Prize is a series of national non-profit competitions in the performing arts which provides reward and recognition to the finest composers, conductors and ensembles in America. Ayers' work was commissioned by the Akron Symphony Orchestra to commemorate the 150th anniversary of abolitionist John Brown's raid on the Federal arsenal at Harper's Ferry. Brown was a resident of Akron. The work was premiered October 17, 2009 — 150 years to the day of Brown's raid — by the Akron Symphony Orchestra, Christopher Wilkins conducting, and Broadcasters Hall of Fame inductee Leon Bibb, narrating.
May 26, 2011. The Lamont Symphony Orchestra, Lawrence Golan, conducting, will perform Jesse Ayers' Jericho May 26 in Denver at the Gates Concert Hall, Newman Center for the Performing Arts, 2344 East Iliff Avenue, 7:30 p.m. local time.
Jesse will be present at this performance.
Jesse Ayers' has been named one of the three winners nationwide of the Dayton Ballet's New Music for New Dance. The program matches three composers with three choreographers culminating in a series of world premiere ballet performances. His winning work, Mountain River Escapades, was selected by jury from a national call for scores. Ayers work will be choreographed by Susanne Payne and presented in five performances March 24-27. Click here for concert time details.
Click here for article in the Dayton Daily News.
Dec. 6, 2010. "From the brilliant opening fanfare on Joy to the World by the fresh voice of American composer Jesse Ayers, sparkling with brass and percussion...." —The Brantford (Ontario) Expositor.
"Your Fanfare is fabulous ... a great way to start off the program with lots of energy." —Philip Sarabura, Music Director, Brantford Symphony Orchestra
September 2010. The MacDowell Colony has announced that composer Jesse Ayers has been awarded a MacDowell Fellowship for the Fall of 2010. The fellowship includes a residency at the 450 acre wooded site in New Hampshire.
Past fellows incude Leonard Bernstein, Aaron Copland, Thornton Wilder, James Baldwin, Willa Cather, and Dubose and Dorothy Heyward.
According to the the MacDowell Colony web site, the colony's mission is to "nurture the arts by offering creative individuals of the highest talent an inspiring environment in which to produce enduring works of the imagination."
May 2010. "We heard Jericho this morning [at the concert in Denver] and my wife and I were both knocked out by it! Great! Congratulations! We enjoyed the audience participation, but the music stands on its own, even without that. There were children there too, as young as kindergarten age, and they enjoyed it too! Your command of the instrumentation is very impressive."
—Dr. John White, composer
University of Vienna Distinguished Chair in Humanities
Professor of Music Emeritus, University of Florida
May 2010. "I have found Jericho to be one of the most effective pieces I have ever had the pleasure to conduct. There is no doubt it makes a lasting impression on the audience. Jericho was "the hit" of the program whenever we performed it. People LOVED it. The audience just kept talking about your piece after our performances." —Prof. Terry Treuden, Director of Instrumental Music, Wisconsin Lutheran College.
May 2010. The Concert Band of the Wisconsin Lutheran College, Milwaukee, Wisconsin, under the direction of Dr. Terry Treuden, will be performing Jesse Ayers' Jericho May 7 in Milwaukee,WI; May 17 in St. Paul, MN; May 19 at Black Hills State University in North Dakota; and May 21 in Denver, CO.
The 16-minute theater-piece employs narrator, surround-sound placement of the musicians, and unorthodox audience participation.
March 11, 2010. "[I have been] listening to [The Passion of John Brown] with score in hand. It is an amazing work, beautifully paced and orchestrated. I love it. If it weren't that I have retired from conducting, I would be figuring out a way to program it."
author of Orchestral Music, A Handbook
"Jesse Ayers' The Passion of John Brown is a total knock-out. On a purely visceral level it is magnificent. The audience was overwhelmed, and their powerful response has continued unabated. I keep hearing from people how moved they were by the music, the drama, the pacing, and the haunting 'flashbacks.'
"Just as remarkable was the reaction of our educational audiences. At first, I was reluctant to program The Passion of John Brown in its entirety for middle schoolers, unsure whether it could hold their attention for 19 minutes. But as it turned out, they were perfectly rapt, nobody moved! They were as quiet as any adult audience. Teacher surveys have come back to us now - all ten out of ten.
"Ayers had artfully achieved many things at once: he has covered a crucial chapter in American history in a clear and memorable way. He has brought tension and drama to the vexing questions of slavery, abolition, and armed resistance. And he has added to the history books something only music can: he's given John Brown flesh and blood. Ayers portrays both the everyday qualities of father, husband, and citizen, and the outsized passions that emboldened Brown in the most extraordinary ways. We hear in Ayers' piece Brown's authentic voice."
Jesse Ayers' The Passion of John Brown for orchestra and narrator, premiered October 17, 2009, performed by the Akron Symphony Orchestra under the baton of Maestro Christopher Wilkins with Broadcasters' Hall of Fame inductee Leon Bibb narrating.
The 19-minute work was commissioned by the orchestra in observance of the 150th anniversary of John Brown's raid on the federal arsenal at Harper's Ferry which helped spark the American Civil War.
Brown lived in the Akron area for many years and is among its most famous citizens.
The concert date was the exact anniversary of the Harper's Ferry raid.
Narrator Leon Bibb, Jesse Ayers, Conductor Christopher Wilkins
The Akron Symphony Orchestra
Vocalists Matt Clear, Dan Liebman, and Andy Black
join Wilkins, Bibb, Ayers, and the orchestra on stage
Maestro Wilkins conceived the idea of commissioning a narrated work about Brown and suggested the marvelous, double-entendre title.
John Brown died a controversial figure, demonized by some, admired by others. Ayers' work tells John Brown's story, the good and the bad, through Brown's own words, as well as the words of two of Brown's surviving offspring, Brown's friend abolitionist Fredrick Douglass, Thomas "Stonewall" Jackson, who witnessed Brown's hanging, and the widow of a man Brown ordered killed. It also quotes John Brown's favorite hymn, Blow Ye the Trumpet, Blow, and uses musical material from the hymn as symbolic bugle calls echoed by surround-sound trumpets.
October 16-31, 2009. The Concordia Wind Orchestra from Irvine, California, under the direction of Jeff Held, will be performing Jesse Ayers' ...and they gathered on Mount Carmel October 16 in Houston, October 18 in Austin, and October 31 in Irvine, California.
The 20-minute, three-movement work was the first of Ayers' "surround-sound" works, with the brass split into two choirs on each side of the audience, two alto saxophones in opposite corners of the rear or balcony, and a few more players behind the audience with unusual instruments.
May 14, 2009. Jesse Ayers' Waldstein Express for 2-pianos 8-hands was performed on the opening concert of the Slobomir International Music Competition in Bijeljina, Repubic of Srpska. The work was performed by students of Professor Dubravka Jovicic, Ph.D., Dean of the Faculty, Belgrade, Serbia.
There were five students who wanted to perform this piece, so to add to the humor of the piece, the fifth player meanders in as though he is a passerby, and rotates into the piece. What enthusiasm in this performance!
The work is based on the opening two measures of Beethoven's Sonata No. 21 in C major "Waldstein" and also briefly quotes Beethoven's Symphony No. 9, Bach's Prelude in C major from the WTC, plus a little Gershwin and Jerry Lee Lewis.
April 3, 2009. Jesse Ayers' Waldstein Express for 2-pianos 8-hands was performed at the national conference of the Society of Composers held in Santa Fe April 2009. This is the second time Ayers music has been performed at an SCI national. In 2005, his work for wind orchestra The Fire of the Living God was performed at the SCI National Conference in Greensboro, NC.
November 2-3, 2008. For the second time this year, Jesse Ayers' Dance of the Mountain Raindrops for piano and string orchestra has aired on Serbia's national television-radio network, RTS. On Sunday night, a portion of the work was televised as part of an RTS retrospective celebrating the highlights of its past 50 years of broadcasting. The entire work was broadcast again on Monday night on RTS radio. RTS broadcast the same work in full on television and radio in March.
The performance featured concert pianist Dubravka Jovicic, Ph.D., of Belgrade, Serbia, and the RTS Symphony Orchestra. Jovicic and the orchestra recorded Ayers' work in 1992 when it was selected for a the inaugural broadcast of a then new RTS-TV series World Premiere, a weekly program dedicated to premiering new concert works by living composers.
March 2008. Professional tubist Kenyon Wilson will be performing Jesse Ayers' work for solo tuba and pre-recorded accompaniment track, The Dancing King, in solo recitals in Maryland, West Virginia, Virginia, and North Carloina. Wilson also toured with Ayers' Dancing King in October 2007 in Nebraska, South Dakata, North Dakota, Wisconsin, and Iowa, and in March 2007 in New Mexico, Idaho, Wyoming, Montana, Utah, and Colorado.
Wilson's first contact with Ayers' music was in 1991 when Wilson was a member of the famed Tennessee Tech Tuba-Euphonium Ensemble when it premiered Ayers'The Magical, Mystical Rain Forest, the other of Ayers' two works utilizing pre-recorded accompaniment track.
December 2007. Jesse Ayers' Veni Emmanuel for chorus and orchestra was performed December 12, 13, and 14, by the Summit Choral Society (Akron, OH) under the direction of Dr. Frank Jacobs. The work is a processional piece. The men begin singing softly in unison, like chant, from behind the audience. Then the orchestra begins playing the 14th-century hymn while the choir solomnly process in. From its dark, sombre beginning, the work becomes progressively brighter until the climactic "Rejoice! Rejoice!"
October 2007. Jesse Ayers has completed a commission to compose a new festival anthem, Arise, My Soul, Arise!, for the inauguration of the new president of Malone College, Dr. Gary Streit. The work is scored for the college's combined choirs [in the aisles], organ, piano, brass quintet, timpani [in front], and surround-sound winds [along the side walls and back], and includes audience participation. Ayers has also included narration pertaining to the college's 1892 founders, J.Walter and Emma Malone. One of the narrators was the great-great grandaughter of the founders.
September 2007. Jesse Ayers has been named a recipient of a 2007 Award from the Amercian Society of Composers, Authors, and Publishers. The awards are announced annually by ASCAP and are determined by a panel of distinguished experts. This is the 16th consecutive year that Ayers has been so honored by ASCAP.
March 26, 2007. Composer Jesse Ayers has been awarded a 2007 Individual Creativity Excellence Award by the Ohio Arts Council. According to the Council, the cash awards are "peer recognition of [Ohio's] creative artists for the exceptional merit of a body of work that advances or exemplifies the discipline and the larger artistic community."
Artists' work was evaluated through an anonymous peer review process by an panel of out-of-state experts. The Council says that the highly competitive awards are only made to 8%-10% of applicants.
Of the forty or so applications received in the field of music compostion, only three awards were made. According to observers at the adjudication deliberations, which are open to the public, Ayers' music was the only music composition application to receive the maximum possible score from all judges on the music panel.
March 2006. Jesse Ayers' newest composition, Jericho, will be performed on tour by the Wind Symphony of Concordia University Chicago under the baton of Dr. Richard Fischer. The 60-member ensemble will perform in St. Louis, Little Rock, Memphis, Peachtree City, GA, Pensacola, Mobile, Houstin, and Austin before their final home concert in Chicago.
Jericho is a dramatic, surround-sound composition for orchestra or band, plus narrator, that features unorthodox audience participation.
This is the second time that Fischer and the Concordia Wind Symphony have taken Ayers' music on tour. In March of 2000, they toured California with Ayers'...and they gathered on Mount Carmel, a major 25-minute, three-movement work for wind orchestra based on the great Old Testament contest between Elijah and the false prophets of Baal.
October 2005. Jesse Ayers' music has been selected to be performed at the national conference of the Society of Composers. His composition, The Fire of the Living God, will be performed in Greensboro, NC, by the University of North Carolina-Greensboro Wind Ensemble under the baton of of Dr. John Locke, President of the American Bandmasters Association.
The conference is an annual three-day festival and will be attended by composers from across America.
April 2005. Jesse Ayers' newest composition, Jericho, will be premiered by the Valparaiso University Chamber Concert Band under the direction of Dr. Jeffrey Scott Doebler. Jericho is a dramatic, surround-sound composition for orchestra or band, plus narrator, that features unorthodox audience participation.
This is the second time that Doebler and the Valparaiso Chamber Concert Band have premiered Ayers' music. In October 1999, they were the first ensemble to perform Ayers'...and they gathered on Mount Carmel, a major 25-minute, three-movement work for wind orchestra based on the great Old Testament contest between Elijah and the false prophets of Baal.
January 2004. Jesse Ayers is one of five American composers selected to participate in the 2004 Essentially Choral Reading Sessions in Minneapolis, co-sponsored by the Minnesota Composers Forum and the Minneapolis-based VocalEssence ensemble conducted by Philip Brunelle. Ayers' work, The Seventh Seal, is scores for SATB chorus and chamber ensemble consisting of special-effects piano, flute, oboe, clarinet, trumpet, and percussion, and is based on the apocolytic text found in Revelation 8: 1-6.
Selected composers will have their works read by the 26-voice VocalEssence Ensemble Singers and professional orchestral musicians. In conjunction with the reading session, composers will attend rehearsals with the musicians and mentoring sessions with bconductor Brunelle and internationally recognized composer Sven-David Sandström.
September 2003. Jesse Ayers is one of six American composers whose music has been selected by the International Society for Contemporary Music to represent the United States at the prestigious World Music Days festival. His work, The Fire of the Living God, was selected by an international jury of distinguished composers.
This is the second time Ayers has been honored by the ISCM. In 1992, his The Dancing King for solo tuba and pre-recorded accompaniment was performed in Warsaw, Poland, at World Music Days '92. The festival will be attended by musicians and music lovers from around the globe.
May 2002. Michael Figueroa, student of Jesse Ayers at Malone University, has won the first place $10,000 scholarship in the BMI-John Lennon Song Writing Contest. Story here
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