Adrienne Albert (born 1941) is an American composer living and working in Santa Monica, California. Although relatively new to composition, Albert is established in the field with a recent NEA grant for a "symphony" about Homer, Alaska, now complete, and various other commissions, artist in residencies, and awards. Albert's work is performed internationally, in the US, in Europe, and extends to a recent set of Chinese performances.
Albert’s first professional work in music was as a mezzo-soprano soloist. She collaborated with Leonard Bernstein, Philip Glass, Gunther Schuller, and Igor Stravinsky among others. Her voice was preferred for parts written for pre-adolescent boys, and Igor Stravinsky is said to have referred to her as his "favorite boy alto". Stravinsky’s fondness for the ambiguously gendered quality of her voice was such that he used Albert as the alto soloist in his Mass. Ms. Albert’s vocal career began while attending UCLA. While singing with The Gregg Smith Singers, she worked with the Maestro on many occasions and recorded three more solo recordings with him, including his "Four Russian Songs for Flute, Harp, Guitar, and Voice", "Cantata", and Stravinsky’s last original composition, "The Owl and the Pussycat", with Robert Craft accompanying.
Ms. Albert enjoyed a long working relationship with Leonard Bernstein as a singer and contractor on his celebrated recordings of his "Mass" (the premiere of which opened the Kennedy Center in Washington, DC), and "West Side Story", on which she contracted the Jets and Sharks, performing with Kiri Te Kanawa and José Carreras. She also sang with Barbara Hendricks at Bernstein’s 70th birthday celebration in Tanglewood under the baton of John Williams. Other solo recordings include songs of Charles Ives with The Columbia Chamber Ensemble and Philip Glass’ opera, "The Photographer", with Glass conducting. At Avery Fisher Hall, she performed with Gunther Schuller and the New York Philharmonic in a premiere of Schuller’s "Symphonia for Four Voices and Orchestra". As a studio singer in New York and Los Angeles, Ms. Albert performed on hundreds of television and radio commercials, sang on countless film scores, and worked with such diverse artists as Pablo Casals, Benny Golson, Dave Grusin, Leiber and Stoller, Zubin Mehta, Frank Sinatra, and Michael Tilson Thomas.
From her vocal work in the 1960s and '70s, Albert made a transition to the quite different work of conducting and arranging in the 1980s. This was an important developmental step away the mind of the soloist and into a role of responsibility for every element of ensemble performance, with choirs, chamber groups, and small orchestras.
A graduate of UCLA in music and the child of European trained professional violinists, Adrienne began studying the piano at age 4 and composition at age 10. Her piano teachers included Jacob Gimpel and Aube Tzerko in Los Angeles, and Joanna Graudan at the Aspen Music School. Composition studies with Leonard Stein preceded a lengthy hiatus performing other people's music. Returning to Los Angeles after years of working in New York, she returned to UCLA and received her Certificate in Film Scoring in 1994 determined to write both instrumental and vocal music for the concert stage. She also studied composition with Stephen "Lucky" Mosko at CalArts and orchestration with Albert Harris. Since the mid-1990s, her concert works have been performed throughout the United States, Europe, Thailand, Mexico, China, and South Africa. Among numerous commissions, awards and grants, Albert was the recipient of a 2006 National Endowment for the Arts grant in conjunction with the American Composers Forum for a Continental Harmony Project in Alaska. Her "An Alaskan Symphony", a work in three movements for choir and orchestra was premiered by the Kenai Peninsula Orchestra in April 2007. "Animalogy" for Woodwind Quintet was a 2007 Winner of the Aeros Quintet Competition and was performed in Carnegie Hall's Zankel Hall in May 2008. She had a residency at the Ucross Foundation as Composer-In Residence in October 2007. Recent commissions and premieres include chamber works for Chamber Music Palisades (2008), Duo for Low Flutes (2008) for Peter Sheridan, Contrabass flutist, "Wind Tides" commissioned by trombonist Andrew Malloy (2008), Pacific Serenades (2007), and St. Bedes Episcopal Church (2007). 2009 brought a commission from The Newstead Trio as part of the grand opening of the new Pennsylvania Academy of the Arts building designed by Philip Johnson in Lancaster, PA. Adrienne toured China in the summer of 2007 with the Newtead Trio as their composer-in-residence meeting with gifted young musicians along the Silk Road. She has been the recipient of numerous Meet the Composer grants, Composer Assistance Program grants, and consecutive ASCAP Awards. Other commissions include works for The Henry Mancini Institute at which she conducted the premiere of her orchestral work in Long Beach, CA, three choral commissions from The Gregg Smith Singers (she was composer-in-residence at the 34th Annual Adirondacks American Music Festival in the summer of 2006), a chamber work for harp titled Fanta*Z for Corky Hale, a piano trio commissioned for The Newstead Trio, and several orchestral works commissioned by The Los Angeles Doctors Symphony Orchestra, Ivan Shulman, Music Director. Her orchestral works, "Western Suite" and "Courage", have been performed by numerous orchestras in the United States including The Virginia Symphony. Other recent chamber music commissions include a duet for soprano saxophone and guitar titled L.A. Tango Nuevo recorded for Centaur Records, a song cycle for noted bass-baritone, Richard Bernstein of the Metropolitan Opera and a work for saxophone, cello, and guitar commissioned by saxophonist Doug Masek which will be premiered later this year. Her works have been recorded for Centaur, Little Piper, and ABC Classics. In the 1990s, after a phase of study with Albert Harris and Stephen Mosko, Albert made a third significant shift in her work toward composition of original works funded through grants and commissions.
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With Cedar Walton
- Mobius (RCA, 1975)