Samuel Zyman

Samuel Zyman, a long-time New York-based Juilliard faculty member, is acknowledged as one of the leading Mexican composers on the international scene today. Cellists Yo-Yo Ma and Carlos Prieto performed Zyman's Suite for Two Cellos at two major sold-out concerts on June 11 and 12, 2007, in the beautiful Palace of Fine Arts in the heart of Mexico City. Zyman's suite was "a feast for the senses, in which the fifth movement was a musical edifice full of magic, fantasy, and sonorous mathematics," wrote Pablo Espinosa of La Jornada. "A composer of his own time, Zyman also incorporates in his work the legacy of other epochs, turning the dialogue between these instruments into a conversation between friends," said Xavier Quirarte of Milenio. Mr. Zyman’s music is characterized by intense and vigorous rhythmic energy, expressive lyricism, and the frequent use of near-jazzy imitative counterpoint. As Allan Kozinn of The New York Times put it, "in [Zyman's piano piece] Two Motions in One Movement, Impressionism and jazz wind around each other like vines." In addition to its rhythmic vitality and expressive melodic inventiveness, Mr. Zyman's music is often marked by a lucid structural conception and an intriguing mixture of Jewish and Latin American overtones. Reviewing a recent performance of Mr. Zyman's piano trio Search, Punch Shaw of The Fort Worth Star-Telegram said, "it was compelling from start to finish and met the goals of its composer with vivid success."

Other recent and current season highlights include the world premiere of Mr. Zyman's Cycles for symphonic winds in Alice Tully Hall in New York in March 2005, performed by the Illinois State University Wind Symphony under conductor Stephen K. Steele, on a program that also featured David Maslanka's Symphony No. 7 and Matthew Halper's Concerto for Flute and Wind Ensemble. A new CD of this program has been released on Albany Records. Mr. Zyman's Piano Concerto was performed by pianist Claudia Corona with the Xalapa Symphony Orchestra under conductor José Guadalupe Flores in Xalapa, Mexico, in June 2005. Mr. Zyman's third piano trio, Search, commissioned by the Texas Christian University (TCU) of Fort Worth, was premiered in March 2005 by the Feghali/Thompson/Castro-Balbi Trio in Weill Concert Hall of Carnegie Hall in New York. These artists later presented the world premiere of Mr. Zyman's Triple Concerto for violin, cello, piano, and orchestra on April 28, 2006 in Fort Worth, with the TCU Symphony Orchestra under music director Germán Gutiérrez, within TCU's Latin American Music Festival. As Mr. Zyman was a major featured composer at the Festival, several other works by him were also presented the same week in Fort Worth, including Cycles, his Suite for Two Cellos, and his piece Reflection for solo cello and an ensemble of seven cellos, with the TCU cello ensemble and Jesús Castro-Balbi as soloist. The Mexican premiere of Mr. Zyman's Triple Concerto took place in June 2006 in the Palace of Fine Arts in Mexico City with violinist Manuel Lozano, cellist Alain Durbecq, and pianist Claudia Corona as soloists and the National Symphony Orchestra of Mexico under the baton of Music Director Enrique Diemecke. Mr. Zyman's Sonata for Flute and Piano was performed by members of the Ensemble Alma, flutist Elena Yarritu and pianist Fabio Gardenal, in Merkin Hall in New York in June 2006.

In May 2006 Samuel Zyman was guest composer, mentor, and judge at the Fresh Ink 2006 Florida Composers Competition, at which works by competing young composers from the state were read and performed by the Jacksonville Symphony Orchestra under Music Director Fabio Mechetti. The first movement of Mr. Zyman's Symphony No. 2 was performed along with the contestants' pieces at the final concert. Mr. Zyman's colorful Mexican-sounding orchestral piece Encuentros was performed by the Dallas Symphony Orchestra in Meyerson Symphony Hall under conductor Germán Gutiérrez on June 2, 2006. Scott Cantrell of The Dallas Morning News pointed out how Encuentros progressed "from gentle shiftings of three- and two-note groupings to a lyric central section to an exuberant close."

Mr. Zyman's Suite for Two Cellos was previously presented by Yo-Yo Ma and Carlos Prieto on October 13, 2006 at the Museum of Contemporary Art in Monterrey, Mexico. Arnoldo Neiro and Gabriel Contreras of Milenio commented that "Zyman's suite displays a stylistic outlook that is markedly Romantic and expressive, yet in a 20th century language. Without a doubt, it is a beautiful work whose arrival enriches the repertoire of music for cello from Mexico."

In addition to two symphonies, other orchestral pieces, several concerti, songs, a recent string quartet, and many other chamber works, Mr. Zyman composed the original symphonic score for the critically acclaimed movie The Other Conquest, directed by Salvador Carrasco and produced by Alvaro Domingo. This score was recorded by the Academy of Saint-Martin-in-the-Fields, conducted by David Snell, and it includes Mr. Zyman's aria "Mater Aeterna," performed by Plácido Domingo. Samuel Zyman's works can be heard on over 15 CDs from Island Records, I.M.P. Masters, Urtext Digital Classics, Ambassador, Sony Classics, EMI, Quindecim, and Albany Records. His music, published by the Theodore Presser Company, has been performed throughout the United States, Mexico, Latin America, Europe, Russia, New Zealand, and other countries by such ensembles as the American Symphony Orchestra, Dallas Symphony Orchestra, National Symphony Orchestra of Mexico and all other major Mexican orchestras, National Symphony Orchestra of Argentina, Oakland Symphony Orchestra, Paris Sinfonietta, and many others. Mr. Zyman's Sonata for Flute and Piano is regarded as a major repertory piece and is frequently performed worldwide. Barry L. Cohen, writing in The New Music Connoisseur, remarked on the sonata's "full excitement, especially in the incredible finale with its seemingly impossible accelerando," when reviewing a 2002 performance of the work in New York by Copland House artists Paul Lustig Dunkel (flutist) and Michael Boriskin (pianist).

Samuel Zyman was born in 1956 in Mexico City, where he studied piano and conducting at the National Conservatory of Music and composition with Mexican composer Humberto Hernández Medrano. He received MM and DMA degrees in composition from The Juilliard School in New York City, studying with the American composers Stanley Wolfe, Roger Sessions, and David Diamond.
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