Broad gestures, rich textures, and narrative sweep are hallmarks of the “compelling” (New York Times), “shapely, melody-rich” (Wall Street Journal) music of composer Alex Weiser. Born and raised in New York City, Weiser creates acutely cosmopolitan music combining a deeply felt historical perspective with a vibrant forward-looking creativity. Weiser has been praised for writing “insightful” music “of great poetic depth” (Feast of Music), and for having a “sophisticated ear and knack for evoking luscious textures and imaginative yet approachable harmonies.” (I Care If You Listen).
An energetic advocate for contemporary classical music and for the work of his peers, Weiser co-founded and directs Kettle Corn New Music, an “ever-enjoyable,” and “engaging” concert series which “creates that ideal listening environment that so many institutions aim for: relaxed, yet allowing for concentration,” (New York Times) and was for nearly five years a director of the MATA Festival, “the city’s leading showcase for vital new music by emerging composers.” (The New Yorker). Weiser is now the Director of Public Programs at the YIVO Institute for Jewish Research where he curates and produces programs that combine a fascination with and curiosity for historical context, with an eye toward influential Jewish contributions to the culture of today and tomorrow.
Weiser is currently developing an opera with librettist Ben Kaplan called State of the Jews. Based on the life of Theodor Herzl, the opera juxtaposes a historical narrative focusing on the last year of his life, with the more intimate story of Theodor’s conflicted relationship with his wife, Julie Herzl, and the toll his political views and activities took on their family life. The opera is being developed as a part of a two-year fellowship with American Opera Projects, the LABA fellowship of the 14th Street Y, and with support from the ConEd Exploring the Metropolis Composer Residency program.
Recent projects include and all the days were purple, a 30-minute song cycle for Eliza Bagg and ensemble featuring songs setting Yiddish and English language Jewish poems reflecting on life and death, and Shimmer, an extended work for eight spatially-arrayed cellos for Ashley Bathgate. Both were documented in studio recordings to be released on albums in the coming season. Other recent projects include Three Epitaphs for singer Kate Maroney and chamber orchestra Cantata Profana, and water hollows stone for HOCKET piano duo. Other commissions and performances have come from ensembles and musicians including the Soldiers Tale septet, Exceptet, Kathleen Supové, Typical Music (Todd Reynolds, Ashley Bathgate, and Vicky Chow), Lisa Moore, Mellissa Hughes, Sandbox Percussion, JACK Quartet, Guidonian Hand, Momenta Quartet, Argento Ensemble, Cadillac Moon Ensemble, Bearthoven, Fifth House Ensemble, bassoon quintet Dark in the Song, and the New Amsterdam Singers.
Weiser has completed residencies at Avaloch Farm Music Institute, Atlantic Center for the Arts, Wildacres, Kimmel Harding Nelson Center for the Arts, and Millay Colony, and his music has been heard at festivals including Bang on a Can, Norfolk, Lake Champlain Chamber Music Festival, Carlsbad Music Festival, June in Buffalo, European American Musical Alliance, Imani Winds Chamber Music Festival, and highSCORE. Weiser has received commissions, awards, and support from Roulette, New Music USA, ASCAP, the Lyrica Chamber Music Society, Iowa State University’s Carillon Festival, the University of Central Missouri, and the Mid Atlantic Foundation for the Arts.
Weiser’s musical education began in earnest while attending Stuyvesant High School writing pieces for their symphonic orchestra, studying theory and conducting with Joseph Tamosaitis, and studying composition with Paul Alan Levi. Weiser then continued his studies at Yale University and New York University where teachers and mentors included Michael Gordon, Julia Wolfe, Michael Klingbeil, Kathryn Alexander, Martin Bresnick, David Lang, Ingram Marshall, and Christopher Theofanidis.