1534 Mound St
“Hermitage Sunsets @ Selby Gardens: Music on the Wind”
with Hermitage Fellows Emi Ferguson and James M. Stephenson
Presented in partnership with Marie Selby Botanical Gardens
Thursday, January 25 at 5pm
Marie Selby Botanical Gardens (entrance at 1534 Mound St, Sarasota, FL 34236)
Registration is required. $5 per person.
Originally from the Chicago area, Hermitage Fellow James Stephenson earned his stripes over 17 seasons in the Naples Philharmonic to become a celebrated composer whose work has covered multiple genres, age groups, instruments, and oceans. From his award-winning compositions for the Marine Band to residences and world premieres with some of the best orchestras across the country, his music speaks to something universal in us all. Juilliard-trained Flutist Emi Ferguson, who Hermitage audiences may recall from her entrancing performance at this year’s Artful Lobster, redefines what it means to be a contemporary musician: mastering not only her instrument, but its history and impact on the broader artistic landscape. Hear selections from both gifted musician composers and gain direct insight into the composition process from the artists themselves at Selby Gardens’ downtown Sarasota campus.
Hermitage Fellow and acclaimed Chicago-based composer James M. Stephenson has had his work presented by leading American orchestras, instrumentalists, and wind ensembles around the world. The Boston Herald raved about “straightforward, unabashedly beautiful sounds,” adding that “Stephenson deserves to be heard again and again!” A formal sense of melody and tonality characterize his music, embedded in a contemporary soundscape. The Chicago Symphony Orchestra premiered Jim’s “astonishingly inventive” (Musical America) bass trombone concerto in June, 2019, with Charles Vernon as soloist. Also in 2019, Jim’s Symphony #3 – VISIONS premiered at the University of Miami, and was subsequently recorded by the Lake Forest Symphony. Stephenson has been commissioned by the San Francisco Ballet for a new 30-minute piece which premiered in 2021, and he was named “Musical Collaborator” with the Grand Rapids Symphony for the 20-21 season, which includes the creation of a special concert with violinist Joshua Bell and soprano Larissa Martinez. Upcoming commissions include the Portland Youth Philharmonic, Cincinnati Pops, and Buffalo Philharmonic. Jim originally hails from the Greater Chicago area, as does his wife Sally. In 2007 the couple, along with their four children, returned to the region to pursue the life they now share.
Hailed by critics for her “tonal bloom” and “hauntingly beautiful performances,” English-American performer and composer Emi Ferguson stretches the boundaries of what is expected of modern-day musicians. Emi’s unique approach to the flute can be heard in performances that alternate between the Silver Flute, Historical Flutes, and Auxiliary Flutes, playing repertoire that stretches from the Renaissance to today. Emi is very proud to be named a 2023 Avery Fisher Career Grant Awardee and can be heard live in concerts and festivals around the world as a soloist and with groups including AMOC, the New York New Music Ensemble, the Handel and Haydn Society, and the Manhattan Chamber Players. She has spoken and performed at several TEDX events and has been featured on media outlets including The Discovery Channel, Vox’s Explained series on Netflix, Amazon’s The Marvelous Mrs. Maisel, and Julliard Digital’s TouchPress apps talking about how music relates to our world today. Her debut album, Amour Cruel, and indie-pop song cycle inspired by the music of the 17th-century French court was released by Arezzo Music in September 2017, spending four weeks on the Classical, Classical Crossover, and World Music Billboard Charts. Her 2019 album Fly the Coop: Bach debuted at #1 on the iTunes classical charts and #2 on the Billboard classical charts and was called “blindingly impressive… a fizzing, daring display of personality and imagination” by The New York Times. In addition to her solo recordings, Emi has also been featured on recordings for New Focus Records, Old Focus Records, Canteloupe Music, National Sawdust Tracks, Brontosaurus Records, Coro, and MSR Classics. Emi was a 2022 member of WQXR’s Artist Propulsion Lab where she developed the podcast series “This Composer Is Sick” with Max Fine, exploring the impact of Syphilis on composers Franz Schubert, Bedrich episodes of WQXR’s Young Artists Showcase where she featured musicians awarded the Paul and Daisy Soros Fellowship for New Americans, grantees of the Salon de Virtuosi Career Grant, artists pioneering music by contemporary composers, and young musicians reinvigorating music of the past for today. Emi was a featured performer alongside Yo-Yo Ma, Paul Simon, and James Taylor at the 10th Anniversary Memorial Ceremony of 9/11 at Ground Zero, where her performance of Amazing Grace was televised worldwide. Her performance that day is now part of the permanent collection at the 911 Museum. A passionate chamber musician of works new and old, Emi has been a featured performer at Marlboro, Lucerne, Ojai, Lake Champlain, Bach Virtuosi, and June in Buffalo festivals and has premiered works by many of today’s leading composers, working most recently with composers Michael Hersch, Roscoe Mitchell, Emily Koh, Gabriela Ortiz, and Georgina Derbez. Emi can often be found dreaming up programs that collide various musical disciplines, composers, and that feature her as a flute player, singer, arranger, and composer. Upcoming projects include Microcosms, the music of Telemann and Ligeti, with Ruckus, The Enchanted Dawn, with harpist Ashley Jackson, and Pastures of Plenty, a program developed for Frankly Music that features music of Franz Schubert, Woody Guthrie, Harry T. Burleigh, and Thomas A. Dorsey. A historical Flutist, in addition to her appointment as Principal Flute of the Handel and Haydn Society, Emi is a frequent guest soloist with period ensembles including Tafelmusik, Voices of Music, the American Classical Orchestra, and Trinity Baroque Orchestra. She was the only flutist accepted to Juilliard’s inaugural Historical Performance Class and was the first person to graduate from Juilliard with Undergraduate and Graduate degrees with Scholastic Distinction (awarded for her simultaneous studies in Epidemiology) in flute performance, as well as a second Graduate degree in Historical performance as a Paul and Daisy Soros Fellow. Emi is currently on the faculty of the Juilliard School, the Bach Virtuosi Festival, and has taught on the faculty of the University of Buffalo. Born in Japan and raised in London and Boston, she now resides in New York City.