Concerts past

Double Portrait—Zivkovic and Agerfeldt Olesen with ensemble mise-en

Image by Julia Hembree

THU—2-16-2017—8 PM
$15 ($10 ASF Members)

Ensemble mise-en’s Portrait Series seeks to celebrate the landmark works of distinguished composers of contemporary music. This series is aimed towards presenting the music of these composers to a wide spectrum of listeners who are engaged in or curious about contemporary art music from around the globe, such as music students and educators, new music enthusiasts, as well as New Yorkers and visitors.

The inaugural concert of the series will feature a pair of Nordic composers: Djuro Zivkovic (Serbia/Sweden) and Thomas Agerfeldt Olesen (Denmark). Djuro Zivkovic is a Grawemeyer Award winning composer, and Thomas Agerfeldt Olesen has had an extensive career composing extended works for large ensembles, including a recent opera at the National Danish Opera.

About ensemble mise-en

Ensemble mise-en is a New York-based contemporary music collective led by composer Moon Young Ha. Comprising talented young musicians, it strives to bring a repertoire of challenging new sounds to diverse audiences. The ensemble strives to impart an experience that is simultaneously multi-cultural, intellectually stimulating, and aesthetically pleasing. As a collective, the multi-national group has coalesced around an aesthetic agenda, crystallized in the name mise-en: “mee,” in Korean means “beauty,” and “zahn” “to decorate,” and the group unabashedly promotes “beautiful” artwork to increasingly diverse audiences of contemporary sounds.

The ensemble promotes large-scale, dynamic performances of contemporary music featuring the works of established and budding composers. Since its inception in 2011, ensemble mise-en has collaborated with many esteemed partners such as: Washington Square Contemporary Music Society, International Alliance for Women in Music, Austrian Cultural Forum New York, Open Meadows Foundation, New York University, New York Foundation for the Arts, I-Park, Goethe-Institute Boston, Villa Gillet, and others. To date, the ensemble has presented a total of 208 pieces, including 86 works written for the group, and 54 US/NY premieres. The ensemble has performed at exciting venues such as (le) poisson rouge, Bohemian National Hall, Italian Academy, the DiMenna Center, Tenri Cultural Institute, and the cell.

About Djuro Zivokic

Djuro Zivkovic (born in Belgrade, Serbia 1975) comes from a non-musical family; however, his parents inspired in him a love for art. His early interest for folklore and Byzantine music led him to develop a variety of compositional techniques such as poly-rhythmic, improvisation, special harmony based scales, microtones, layer-polyphony and heterophony.

His harmonic-field technique is now a topic of academic research at the University of Music and Performing Arts in Graz in Austria and the derivative products of his harmonic approach are compositions such as Le Cimètiere Marin and The White Angel in which are entirely released basic harmonic principles.

Djuro Zivkovic has been living and working in Stockholm, Sweden since 2000. His music is commissioned, performed, recorded and broadcast across Europe and North America, including by the New York Philharmonic, Malmö Symphony Orchestra, New European Ensemble, Seattle Symphony Orchestra, and more.

As a composer Zivkovic is non-compromising in the appraisal of his work and for him the reason for the existence of art lies in its power to communicate. The flexibility of musical communication gives an opportunity for the transference of messages between people which is unquestionably the opposite of today’s populist “Ego-art”; and that communication can be achieved only by detaching the need for self-possession and self-attraction, thus creating instead “Free Art for all humanity in all times.” For Zivkovic, the composer shouldn’t be understood by audience, rather, the composer should understand the audience.

About Thomas Agerfeldt Olesen

Thomas Agerfeldt Olesen was born in 1969. He is trained in both cello and composition, educated at the Royal Academy of Music in Aarhus, Denmark. As a composer he studied with Karl Aage Rasmussen, Bent Sørensen, and Olav Anton Thommesen at the academy. In addition, he received lessons from Henryk Gorecki and Poul Ruders.

Agerfeldt Olesen is very interested in the affinity between music and the human mind and he does not believe in giving up the traditional musical foundation of tonality and counterpoint whilst at the same time being very careful in his choice of musical material. Composers like Witold Lutoslawski and Alban Berg, who, even in applying twelve tone-techniques have “tonality lurking around the corner” as Agerfeldt Olesen puts it, have had a profound influence on him.


Agerfeldt Olesen’s music is often described as an original fusion of humor and seriousness. His background as a cellist can be heard in his works through a very concrete sense of instrumental technique and an ever-present awareness of the fact that his music is to be played by musicians which manifests in a sense of phrasing and articulation that applies to more than just his handling of the cello.

His major works include the opera The Picture of Dorian Gray (2013), for which he received the Musical Drama Prize of the Danish State’s Art Foundation as well as the Carl Prize, and orchestral and ensemble works like Der Wind Bläset Wo er Will (2011) and Die Himmlischen Heerscharen (1998).