March 2023

2023 Features Rodríguez Premieres,
Commissions, New Recordings and MoreFridas

The world premiere of Robert Xavier Rodríguez’s song cycle L’Arc-en-Ciel d’Arlequin (Harlequin’s Rainbow) for mezzo-soprano and string quartet highlights the 22-23 concert season. Rodríguez set twelve poems about Harlequin in the original French from Albert Giraud’s Pierrot Lunaire. In September 2022, Rachel Calloway and the Amernet Quartet gave a preview in Miami at Florida International University and performed the premiere at the University of Texas at Dallas. Commissioned by UT Dallas, the work is now available on a CD from Albany Records along with Romance with a Double Bass for narrator, contrabass and piano performed by Daniel Nix, contrabass, Mikhail Berestnev, piano and Mary-Margaret Pyeatt, narrator. Commissioned by Gary Karr, the Romance is a setting of an English translation of Anton Chekhov’s comic short story of the same name.

Rodríguez’s next premiere will be Piñata para los amantes for clarinet and cello in July 2023 at the Grand Teton Music Festival in Jackson, Wyoming. The San Antonio-based SOLI Chamber Ensemble commissioned the work for two of its founding members, Stephanie Key, clarinet and David Mollenhauer, cello. The composer based the duo on his concert overture Piñata. SOLI will repeat the work on their 23-24 season. Rodríguez’ next commission is from Hélène Wickett and Orchestra Parnassus in San Francisco for a piano concerto to be premiered in 2024-2025.

In January 2023, Naxos released a CD of Rodríguez’ Xochiquetzal for violin and six percussionists, performed by Nicholas Kitchen, violin and the New England Conservatory Percussion Ensemble, conducted by Frank Epstein. The NEC led a consortium of university ensembles to commission the work.

In progress is an all-Rodríguez CD on the Music from Copland House series featuring the chamber version of The Dot and the Line, based on the classic children’s book by Norton Juster, with Jamie Bernstein, narrator. The orchestral version was commissioned jointly by the Dallas Symphony and Carnegie Hall; Jamie Bernstein also narrated for the Dallas premiere. The Copland House disc will also include The Food of Love for violin, actor and piano, commissioned by the Bowdoin Music Festival, and the chamber version of Rodriguez’s ballet Estampie. The original orchestral version was commissioned by the Dallas Ballet. The Music from Copland House Players recently gave the New York premiere of Estampie on their concert series at Elebash Hall (City University of New York).

Recent seasons have seen continuing multiple performances of Rodríguez’s iconic opera Frida, based on the life of Mexican painter Frida Kahlo. Upcoming productions include Festival Under the Stars in Naples, FL in April, and the opera will have its British premiere at the Leeds Opera Festival in August with a production to follow by the Orlando Opera. Frida was premiered in Philadelphia in 1991. The New York Times named it the “best opera/musical theater of 1991.” Performances in recent seasons have included Anchorage Opera, Portland Opera, Opera Southwest, Opera Cultura, El Paso Opera and Detroit Opera (repeat production).

Previous productions include the Florida Grand Opera, Long Beach Opera, Cincinnati Opera, Brooklyn Academy of Music Next Wave Festival, American Repertory Theater in Boston, Houston Grand Opera, Long Beach Opera, Michigan Opera Theatre, Festival de Mayo in Guadalajara, the Vienna Schauspielhaus and productions in Recklinghausen, Nordhausen and throughout the United States.

Other performances include the 2018 premiere of Rodríguez’s Menasherie for SSA chorus and piano, based on animal poems by Ogden Nash. The Young People’s Chorus of New York City commissioned the work, and Francisco Nuñez conducted the performance on the YPC’s Radio Radiance series. In 2017, Edwin Outwater and the Orchestra of St. Luke’s gave the New York premiere of the orchestral version of The Dot and the Line (2011) at Stern Auditorium at Carnegie Hall. John Lithgow, 2017 Emmy Award-Winner, was the narrator. In the same season was the world premiere of Above All, Women: Four Images of Gustav Klimt for String Quartet. The work was commissioned by The University of Texas at Dallas for performance by the Amernet Quartet. The Amernet subsequently recorded Above All, Women, along with Rodriguez’s first string quartet, Meta 4. The recording was released on the Albany label along with the violin and piano version of Xochiquetzal for violin and piano, performed by Chloé Trevor and Jeff Lankov.

Additional opera performances in recent seasons have included Monkey See, Monkey Do (Opera Nova), Tango (Aperio and Aston Magna Festival) and La Curandera (SJSU Opera Theater, San José). Among recent orchestral performances are Hot Buttered Rumba (Plano Symphony), The Dot and the Line (Louisville Symphony), Fanfarria Son-Risa (San Antonio Symphony) and the Agnus Dei for Mozart’s Mass in C-Minor (School for Music and the Performing Arts in Mannheim, Germany). Performances by the Dayton Philharmonic include Agnus Dei from Mozart’s Mass in C Minor, A Colorful Symphony, Flight, The Dot and the Line and We, the People.

Earlier recordings of Rodríguez’s music include an all-Rodríguez CD on the First Edition label, in conjunction with the Meet the Composer/Exxon Orchestra Residency Program, in which Rodríguez served as Composer-in-Residence with the Dallas Symphony Orchestra. The CD features Oktoechos (Dallas Symphony, conducted by Eduardo Mata), Favola Boccaccesca (Louisville Symphony, conducted by Lawrence Leighton Smith) and The Song of Songs (Voices of Change, conducted by the composer). The CD is part of a three-disc release featuring works of Rodríguez, Joan Tower and Christopher Rouse.

Other releases feature an Albany album of Rodríguez’ chamber music with performances of Trio I, Trio II, Trio III (Sortrilege) by the Clavier Trio and Meta 4 by the Colorado Quartet. Additional CDs feature Flight, the Story of Wilbur and Orville Wright, text by Sukey Smith, for narrator and orchestra, with the Dayton Philharmonic Orchestra, conductor Neal Gittleman and actress Allison Janney (The West Wing) narrator and Tango, with Paul Sperry, tenor, and members of the San Diego Symphony, conducted by the composer.

Rodríguez’s music has been performed by conductors such as Sir Neville Marriner, Antal Dorati, Eduardo Mata, Andrew Litton, James DePriest, Sir Raymond Leppard, Keith Lockhart and Leonard Slatkin and such organizations as the New York City Opera, the National Opera of Mexico, Brooklyn Academy of Music, Boston Repertory Theater, American Music Theater Festival (now Prince Theater), Dallas Opera, Houston Grand Opera, Pennsylvania Opera Theater, Michigan Opera Theatre, Orlando Opera, The Aspen Music Festival, The Juilliard Focus Series, The Israel Philharmonic Orchestra, Mexico City Philharmonic, Toronto Radio Orchestra, The Baltimore, Dallas, Houston, San Antonio, Knoxville, Indianapolis, St. Louis, Pittsburgh, Milwaukee, Boston and Chicago Symphonies, The Los Angeles Philharmonic, National Symphony, Los Angeles Chamber Orchestra, Louisville Orchestra and Cleveland Orchestra. Rodríguez’s chamber works have been performed in London, Paris, Dijon, Monte Carlo, Berlin, Stockholm, Copenhagen, Edinburgh, The Hague and other musical centers.

Rodríguez’ music is published exclusively by G. Schirmer, and twenty CDs of his work have been recorded on the Newport, Crystal, Orion, Gasparo, Urtext, Pro Arte Musicae, ACA, CRI (Grammy nomination), Albany, First Edition and Naxos labels. Rodríguez has served as Composer-in-Residence of the Dallas Symphony and the San Antonio Symphony. He holds an Endowed Chair of Art & Aesthetic Studies and is director of the Musica Nova ensemble at The University of Texas at Dallas. He is also active as a guest lecturer and conductor.