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For a woman yet to reach age 40, Augusta Read Thomas has amassed an oeuvre, and prestigious awards to accompany it, that would make a composer twice her age still look prolific. Ironically, she has withdrawn most of her previously published catalog leaving only a core of about 30 works. Thomas studied at Northwestern University and Harvard University (with Jacob Druckman), and has received commissions from the Chicago Symphony Orchestra (where she is currently Composer in Residence), the Saint Paul Chamber Orchestra, and France's Evian Festival, to name a few. She currently teaches at the Eastman School of Music in Rochester, New York, and recently took part in a residency, along with her husband, Pulitzer Prize-winning composer Bernard Rands, at the University of Southern California's Thornton School of Music. Angel Chant was commissioned by the Naumberg Foundation for its 1991 Chamber Music Competition winners, the Eroica Trio. The unrevised (1991) version of the work won Second Prize in the prestigious International Competition of composer Henri Dutilleux in Paris.
Thomas has provided the following note:
"Angel Chant for piano trio is comprised of three movements. Movement one, Nocturne, is a night piece of mysterious and dark nature which, in tightly knit music, exposes the trio almost as if it were one instrument, not three. The text of the music is heavy and percussive yet always reaching for lyrical expression.
The second movement, Fantaisie, takes an unconventional approach to piano trio writing in that in its architecture there are cadenzas for each of the three players. This movement suggests a dream state between night (Nocturne) and morning (Aubade) in which references to its surrounding movements inform is own structure.
Movement three, Aubade, is a song for the dawn. Closely related to the musical material exposed in Nocturne, the character of the music becomes lyrical and cantabile in Aubade."
— Christopher Anderson-Bazzoli is the Los Angeles Philharmonic's Publications Assistant.