Jay Reise

Jay Reise is the composer of the opera Rasputin which was commissioned by the late Beverly Sills and premiered by the New York City Opera in 1988. It was described in The Washington Times as “a spellbinding, challenging and profoundly beautiful creation.” Rasputinwas given its highly successful Russian premiere, directed by Dmitry Bertman, in Moscow by the Helikon Opera in September, 2008 and has been in repertory since then. Rasputinreceived its French premiere at Opéra Massy in Paris in 2010.  The opera is scheduled for the Saaremaa Festival in Estonia in 2012.

Reise's Oscar Wilde-based ballet fairy-tale The Selfish Giant was commissioned and premiered by the Philharmonia Orchestra in London in 1997. Other recent works include The Flight of the Red Sea Swallow for violin and piano, Lunahuaná for percussion 2-players, and the The River Within (Concerto for Violin and Orchestra) (2008) premiered by Maria Bachmann and Orchestra 2001 and recently released on Innova Records.

Reise was born in 1950 in New York City and has lived in Philadelphia since he was appointed to the music faculty at the University of Pennsylvania in 1980. Previous to his appointment at Penn, Reise taught for four years at Hamilton College during which he composed his first two symphonies supported by grants from the National Endowment for the Arts and a Guggenheim fellowship. Symphony of Voices was premiered at the Monadnock Festival, and his Second Symphony was premiered by the Syracuse Symphony, conducted by Christopher Keene, and performed subsequently by the Philadelphia Orchestra. His Third Symphony was supported by the Dietrich and Rockefeller Foundations and premiered by the Long Island Philharmonic. Other awards and fellowships have come from the Fromm Foundation, Bellagio, the Camargo Foundation, and twice from the National Endowment for the Arts.

The music of Jay Reise has been performed widely both in the United States and abroad including an all-Reise retrospective concert in Moscow in 2000. He has been a recipient of the US-Japan Creative Arts Fellowship and has served as Director of Contemporary Music at the Grand Teton Music Festival.

Deeply influenced by Carnatic (South Indian) music and jazz (especially Jimmy Giuffre and George Russell), Reise works with a technique that he calls "rhythmic polyphony" in which rhythmic motives are developed within the phrase such that the cadence point is implied rhythmically as well as through harmonic and contrapuntal means. This technique has been a part of his music since 1990.