Much of Wallach’s work is concerned with 20th and 21st century issues from perspectives beyond the strictly musical; each using conventional musical techniques and instruments to reach beyond the past into a vibrant—if at times disturbing—present. Frequently her music is the fruit of connections with colleagues and disciplines beyond music.Wallach’s early training in piano, voice, theory, bassoon and violin included study at the Juilliard Preparatory Division, and she earned bachelors and masters degrees at Sarah Lawrence College and Columbia University respectively. In 1984 the Manhattan School of Music, where she studied with John Corigliano, granted her its first doctorate in composition.Although she makes her home in New York City, where she was born, Wallach’s childhood in Morocco colors her work and world view. Her interest in non-Western music is threaded subtly through her work’s engaging, exotic melodies and evocative use of non-Western rhythms and scales.
Her years on the Fulbright Senior Scholars Music Panel contributed to her familiarity with creative and scholarly musical activity around the world; and her childhood in Morocco contributed to her abiding interest in cultures and worldviews beyond our own. Since 1980 when her choral work, On the Beach at Night Alone, won first prize in the Inter-American Music Awards, Wallach’s music has consistently won prestigious international prizes, commissions and awards.
Her String Quartet 1995 was the American Composers Alliance nominee for the 1997 Pulitzer Prize in Music. The New York Philharmonic Ensembles premiered her octet, From the Forest of Chimneys, written to celebrate their 10th anniversary.
Toward a Time of Renewal, Wallach’s secular oratorio for orchestra, chorus and solo voices, was commissioned by the New York Choral Society for their 150th anniversary season in Carnegie Hall. Toward a Time of Renewal was written in collaboration with the late American poet, Denise Levertov, and its vivid voice prophetically addresses the links between the global and interpersonal issues troubling our time.
Each of Wallach’s choral works and each of her many songs represents a collaboration with poets, subjects, singers and audience. From the personal plaint of Who is that Stranger, crafted from the oral poetry of illiterate, anonymous women of Yemen and the West Bank to The Alley-Cat Love Song‘s ribald look at Wallach’s pet’s fantasy sex life, Wallach’s dramatic, sensual imagination evokes the psyche and reflects the human (and occasionally feline) condition.
A provocative look at gender relations, Glancing Below, Wallach’s ballet written in collaboration with British choreographer Collin Connor, was commissioned by the Carlisle Project in 1995. Glancing Below then entered the repertoire of the Hartford Ballet and Hartford Symphony, and was a showcase production of both the Juilliard Dance Ensemble and the Guild of Musicians for Dance.
Wallach’s collaborations with dancers and choreographers began many years prior to Glancing Below. While still an undergraduate at Sarah Lawrence College, Wallach became involved in music for dance through Bessie Schonberg’s legendary dance department, working with faculty and students such as Meredith Monk, Yuriko, Donald McKayle and Ruth Currier. After graduation, Wallach worked with dancers and choreographers at the Martha Graham, Merce Cunningham and Paul Taylor Dance Companies.
Wallach’s collegial spirit, humor, imagination and tact have made her a welcome guest and resident composer at orchestras and festivals around the world, including the Billings [Montana], Hudson Valley and San Jose Symphonies, the National Orchestral Association, Piccolo Spoleto and Charles Ives Festivals, as well as the United States’ National Park Service.
A pre-concert lecturer for the New York Philharmonic and a founder of her own lecture series (“Music as a Meltingpot Mosaic” and “Bridging the Sacred and the Secular Through Music”) at New York’s famed 92nd Street Y, Ms Wallach speaks on a broad range of musical subjects, bringing fresh insights to familiar works and opening doors to more recent ones and to those less frequently heard. Through music, her talks reach beyond the specifically musical world to a wider intellectual and aesthetic universe.
An original and engaging educator, Wallach has designed new pedagogical approaches for the Lincoln Center Institute; and created and expanded outreach programs at the Billings, (Montana), Hudson Valley and San Jose Symphonies. As early as the 1980’s, she integrated music into a multidisciplinary course at Hunter College (CUNY) called “Patterns of Contemporary Culture,” which focused on the roles of the arts in the rich, complex, at times uncomfortably ambiguous, and increasingly global culture of our time.
When not composing, Ms Wallach reads, swims, communes with nature and close friends, and—since her husband’s untimely death some years ago—lives in New York City with Jasmin, her magical cat and mini-muse.
Wallach’s ability to abstract from experience and distill it into such a brilliantly wrought work is miraculous.” —Don Mager, Making Time, Eclectica.org July/Aug 2002
Her voice has the strength of Bartok (or Beethoven)—passionate, articulate, authentic and thoroughly moving.” —Mark Greenfest, The New Music Connoisseur
…a poignancy and bite that one rarely hears, even from the pen of a Beethoven.” —Mark Greenfest, The New Music Connoisseur
…with sexy and funny vocal lines… exciting, unusual and quite marvelous.” —IAWM Journal
…music does not get any better than Joelle Wallach’s—very passionate, yet shaped for deliberate, eloquent ‘storytelling effect.'” —Mark Greenfest, The New Music Connoisseur
Memory Set to Music
By Frederick Kaimann, for The Newark Star-Ledger
Tuesday, October 22, 2002
At 95 and nearing the end of her long life, Gertrude Schmones accepted the bedside visits of friends and relatives to recount the things she had seen. She remembered Hitler and the Russian Revolution and pogroms before that.
A woman with a mystical side, Schmones told the stories differently, depending on how many people were in her audience, according to her granddaughter, the composer Joelle Wallach. There was the formal, expansive retelling for large groups. A handful of close family heard the same stories in another way, more interactive, with sharing and joint telling among them. Finally, there was the untold retelling, a recollection within the storyteller’s own mind, where fantasy and imagination embellish the truth into something wholly new.
This observation and insight into memory and her family became the structure for Wallach’s In Memory the Heart Still Sings, which had its world premiere on Saturday by the Orchestra at William Paterson University in Wayne. The memory became a musical theme and the retellers the orchestra and solo clarinetist.
Wallach, who was raised mostly by Schmones, trusted her grandmother’s voice to the understanding soloist Andrew Lamy in this single-movement rhapsody. He joined the strings, woodwinds and a French horn in a simple theme, stately and instructive. Mark Laycock crisply conducted the soulful piece. Then Lamy broke off with small groups of instruments, playfully tossing the same theme around until his clarinet spoke alone. His solos were contemplative and fanciful, as the internal narrator remembered her own life. “On the meaningful part of the journey (of life), you are alone,” Wallach told the audience before the piece was played. By any measure, In Memory the Heart Still Sings was a success. As abstract music, it entertained and intrigued. It was an engaging concert piece. And as family memory, Gertrude Schmones and her stories live on.
Muir Quartet Earns Standing Ovation
By Daniel Buckley, Tucson Citizen Music Critic
Muir Quartet Earns Standing Ovation By Daniel Buckley, Tucson Citizen Music Critic
Sunny, witty Mozart, an evocative world premiere and lively, dancing Dvorak earned the Muir String Quartet an enthusiastic standing ovation from the full house at last night’s Arizona Friends of Chamber Music concert.
The Boston group’s performance of Mozart’s K. 428, E-flat Major quartet was everything you’d want—light and limber, precise and poised but never precious or overly formal. The piece set the tone for the evening, showcasing the group’s meticulous attention to phrasing and detail, as well as its personality and ability to infuse just the right degree of heart and wit. Individual technique was as impeccable as the ensemble sound, and when themes were passed from instrument to instrument, the phrasing was perfectly matched to the finest degree. It was particularly amazing to hear them toss off the hiccups of the zesty final movement with the timing of a practiced stand up comic. These four smile a lot when they play. How could you not when you’re so on top in every aspect from conception to execution? Some groups make it look easy. Muir makes it look fun.
Joelle Wallach’s String Quartet 1999 “In the slight ripple, the mind perceives the heart,” received the same attention to detail and expression that the Mozart had, though the sonic fabric was very different. The two movement, roughly 12-minute work began in probing, shadowy harmonies, the music moving in unexpected directions, stirred up periodically by little dancing eddies. The opening movement in particular pit formation-flying violins over more independent bottom string figures, the ensemble and solo elements perfectly balanced so as to reveal the full texture in transparent relief.
The second movement was more lyrical and cast more in post- romantic harmonies, but with a highly inventive way of treating the material. Wallach seemed to be freely transforming and reshaping the themes across temporal and cultural boundaries, referencing classical counterpoint, folkish traditions, and sacred music of the west and Middle East to come to a kind of personal, if uneasy, peace. It was complex, but eloquent music that spoke to the appreciative crowd. The piece, which received its world premiere last night, was commissioned by AFCM.
Muir capped the night with a spirited account Dvorak’s Quartet in C Major, Op. 61 that reveled in its romance and delighted in its Czech rhythms. The group brought a radiant yet courageous heart to its pening movement, capturing its dramatic accents and taut Bohemian syncopations to perfection. The second movement saw impish impulse and rich expression contrasted to great effect, while in the final movements, the foursome poured on the energetic life to both the music’s drama and jubilant spirit, whipping the discerning crowd to explosive applause.
Daniel Buckley Music Critic Stereophile/Tucson Citizen
Daniel Buckley, Music Critic
- Tell me about your compositional process. Do you prefer to start from an outside inspiration, or do you like to start with a purely musical idea?
- When you have outside inspiration, what draws you to the subject matter you choose?
- Tell me about growing up in Morocco. How has that influenced your music or aesthetic view, if at all?
- What is a typical commissioning process like? What sorts of individuals, organizations or ensembles commission you; and what sorts of requests and restrictions might they have for the music itself?
- Tell me about some of your collaborations with the many fine artists and organizations you’ve worked with over the years.
- What is it like to hear a new work of yours for the first time? How do you experience initial rehearsals or a world premiere?
- You are a well-known speaker on musical subjects. Do you enjoy speaking about music? How would you describe your experience with the New York Philharmonic as their pre-concert lecturer?
- Do your talks and lectures inform your music – or vice versa? In what ways?
- Tell me about your current projects. What compositions are you currently working on?
- Are there any works that you haven’t yet written that would be a sort of dream project for you?
- Do you enjoy the CD recording process?
- Have there been any joys or problems you’ve encountered along the way as a composer, especially as a woman composer?
- How are you responding to the changing face of classical music in the 21st century?
- What does the future hold for Joelle Wallach?
All press inquiries should be directed to Jeffrey James Arts Consulting at 516-586-3433 or firstname.lastname@example.org.
- Teaching, Public Lectures, and Academic Experience
- Orchestral Positions and Residencies
- Music for Dance, Theater and Opera
- Recent Selected Commissions and Performances
- Grants, Honors and Awards
- Memberships and Offices in Professional Societies
- Artist Residencies and Retreats
- Publishers & Labels
- Doctor of Musical Arts: Composition. Manhattan School of Music. Ancillary fields in theory, piano and voice
- Digital Music Certificate – Massachusetts Institute of Technology
- Master of Arts : Musical Composition. Graduate Faculties, Columbia University
- Bachelor of Arts: Musical Composition. Sarah Lawrence College
- Principal Teachers: John Corigliano, Manhattan School of Music
- Meyer Kupferman, Sarah Lawrence College
- The New York Philharmonic, (1990-1992, 2005-present) Preparing and presenting pre-concert lectures to build audience attendance and donor support
- The 92nd Street YMHA, School of Music, (2006-present)
- Developing, inaugurating and delivering new programming linking music to the history of ideas
- National Parks Service, Acadia National Park, Artist in Residence (2006) created and conducted public workshops
- Fulbright Senior Specialists Program, Council for the International Exchange of Scholars, (2002-2006)
- The Frick Collection, (2005) Invented, wrote and delivered lecture linking visiting exhibits with in-house concerts
- Bursting Out of the Box, creativity consulting (2002- )
- Empire State College, S.U.N.Y., Preceptor and Evaluations Consultant 1995-97, 1980-1984
- Billings [Montana] Symphony, Composer in Residence, educational outreach programs 1994-5
- Hudson Valley Philharmonic, Composer in Residence, educational outreach programs 1985, 1987
- Lincoln Center Institute, Teaching Artist, designing/implementing new curricula 1990
- Fordham University, Assistant. Professor of Music:: Music History, Jazz, Musical Concepts 1981-83
- Manhattan School of Music, Doctoral Teaching Fellow: music theory, sight-singing, dictation 1980-1982
- Hunter College, C.U.N.Y., Center for Lifelong Learning. “Patterns of Contemporary Culture” 1978-79
- Composer-in-Residence, Gold Coast Chamber Players, (San Francisco, CA) 2003-2005
- Piccolo Spoleto Festival/ Charles Ives Center for American Music/ Charleston (SC) Symphony 2002
- San Jose Symphony, Guest Composer 1998 San Jose Chamber Orchestra, Guest Composer 1999, 1998
- Wayne Chamber Orchestra, Guest Composer 1998-2000
- Harvestworks, PASS digital/electronic studio, Composer Digital Programming Fellow 1995
- Billings [Montana] Symphony, Composer-in-Residence 1994-5
- Lake Placid Symphonietta, Composer-in-Residence 1992
- National Orchestral Association, Fellow 1990-1991
- New York Philharmonic Orchestra, Pre-concert Lecturer 1990-91
- Hudson Valley Philharmonic, Composer-in-Residence 1985, 1987
- Ballet: Glancing Below, Carlisle Project, Hartford Ballet, Guild of Musicians for Dance and the Juilliard Dance Theater
- Chamber opera: The King’s Twelve Moons the Purple Circle Opera Company, New York City, CitiCorp Center
- Improvisation for the Martha Graham, Merce Cunningham, Paul Taylor Dance Companies, Sarah Lawrence College, Bessie Schonberg, Meredith Monk, Yuriko, Donald McKayle, Ruth Currier etc.
- The Cloths of Heaven for 40 unaccompanied voices, Manhattan Choral Ensemble commission 2006
- In a Dark Time, for horn and piano, International Women’s Brass Conference commission 2005-6
- Therefore, for a cappella chamber choir, New York Virtuosi, New York City 2005
- Beyond the Shadow of the Rain, meditations on a Shang Dong folksong, for violin, viola and cello, commissioned by the Jade String Trio 2003, Shanghai and New York City, 2004
- After Alcyon’s Dream for clarinet, viola and piano, commissioned by the Halcyon Trio 2003
- The Tiger’s Tail, an orchestral overture
- Spoleto Festival and Charles Ives Festival of American Music 2002
- San Jose Symphony, March 8,9, 1997
- Women’s Philharmonic, San Francisco Sept. 27, 1991
- National Orchestral Association NYC March 23, 1991
- A Revisitation of Myth for piano, viola and medium voice “Cutting Edge Concerts” NYC April 4, 2002 and Donnell Library Series 2002
- Why the Caged Bird Sings for treble voices, horn, piano or strings, Plymouth Music Series [VocalEssence] Philip Brunell, Music Director 2002
- Sextet for woodwind quintet and piano, American Chamber Ensemble 2001
- String Quartet #3 commissioned by the Arizona Friends of Chamber Music for the Muir Quartet, 1999-2001
- From the Almanac of Last Things for piano and medium voice, commissioned by Paul Sperry for the Joy In Singing’s Millennial Concert 2001
- Glancing Below, a ballet for eight players:
- Showcase Presentation of the Juilliard Dance Theater 1999
- Hartford Ballet and Hartford Symphony, 1995;
- Guild of Musicians for Dance, Hunter College, NYC 1995;
- commissioned by The Carlisle Project, for the Drake Theater, Philadelphia, 1994
- Loveletter (postmark San Jose), for euphonium and strings, commissioned by the San Jose Chamber orchestra 1999
- Toward a Time of Renewal for large chorus, four solo voices and symphony orchestra. commissioned by The New York Choral Society, 1994, Carnegie Hall, NYC; Columbia University April 25, 1998
- String Quartet (1995) La Musica Festival, Sarasota FL 1996
- La musica, los muertos y las estrellas for a cappella SATB
- Plymouth Music Series, Walker Arts Center, Minneapolis 1994
- Florilegium Chamber Choir, Merkin Hall, Lincoln Center, NYC May 29, 1989
- Shadow, Sighs and Songs of Longing for cello and orchestra, Billings [Montana] Symphony, 1994
- Where Angels May Lie Down Among Us
- Boston Chamber Ensemble, Cambridge, MA 1994;
- Commissioned and premiered by the Lake Placid Symphonietta, 1992
- From the Forest of Chimneys, an octet for clarinet, bassoon, horn and strings.
- Commissioned and premiered by The New York Philharmonic Ensembles, opening subscription concert 1992
- Sweet Briar Elegies for soprano saxophone and cello ensemble.
- Commissioned and premiered by Le Festival Internationale des Violoncelles, Paris and Beauvais [France], May 1993
- Three Short Sacred Anthems for unaccompanied treble voice, Union Theological Seminary Symposium and Film: Beauty and Liturgy 1993
- The Wreath of Silver Birds, a suite for unaccompanied piccolo, The Art Institute of Chicago, in conjunction with their Magritte Exhibit 1993
- Epistolary, from Daughters of Silence New York Festival of Song, Weill Hall, NYC 1992
- The King’s Twelve Moons a chamber opera, Magic Circle Opera Repertory Ensemble at the CitiCorp Center, New York City 1992
- Three Whitman Songs for voice, clarinet, French horn and bassoon. American Chamber Ensemble 1992
- String Quartet (1986) Charles Ives Center for American Music 1991
- Drisha Institute, Artist Fellow 2007-2008
- Manhattan Choral Ensemble First Prize, for The Cloths of Heaven for 40 unaccompanied voices 2006
- New York Virtuoso Singers Choral Composition Competition for Therefore 2005
- First Prize, First Annual Jezick Ensemble Prize for treble choir for Why the Caged Bird Sings 2004
- International Alliance for Women in Music, Miriam Gideon Prize for A Revisitation of Myth 2003
- Waging Peace for Toward a Time of Renewal for orchestra and chorus 2002
- Arizona Friends of Chamber Music String Quartet Competition Commission 1999 (String Quartet #3)
- Women’s Philharmonic Orchestral Reading Fellow 1998 In Memory the Heart Still Sings
- Artist Fund Fellowship New York Foundation for the Arts, 1998
- First Prize New England Chamber Orchestra Competition 1994 for Where Angels May Lie Down Among Us
- Tyrone Guthrie Fellowship 1994
- First Prize International Eisteddfod Competition 1992 for La musica, los muertos y las estrellas
- Chamber Composition Grant A.C.T.S. Foundation 1992
- First Prize New Music for Young Ensembles, 1991 for Woodwind Quintet, O llama de amor viva
- First Prize Amadeus Choir, 1991, (Toronto) for Three Short Sacred Anthems and The Oxen Carol
- Orchestral Reading Fellowship National Orchestral Association, 1990-91 The Tiger’s Tail
- First Prize First Universalist Church New Music Competition 1989 for Three Spanish Songs
- Delius Foundation Grand Prize and Chamber Music Award 1988 for Organal Voices
- The Church and the Artist (Archdiocese of Seattle) 1987 for Orison of Ste. Theresa
- Ludwig Vogelstein Foundation Fellowship 1986
- Artists Fellowship (Inaugural Year) New Jersey State Council on the Arts in recognition of “Outstanding Artist Merit” and “Achievement as an Artist” 1984-1985
- First Prize Baroque Choral Guild 1984 for Five American Echoes
- First Prize Delta Omicron Competition 1984 for Forewords
- First Prize Chamber Symphony of Princeton 1984 for Turbulence, Stillness and Saltation
- First Prize New Music for Young Ensembles 1984 for Of Honey and Of Vinegar
- First Prizes National League of American Pen Women 1988, 1986, 1987, 1985, 1983, 1982
- First Prize Inter-American Music Awards, Sigma Alpha Iota 1980 for On the Beach At Night Alone
- Joy in Singing, Board of Directors 2004- 2007
- Council for the In’tl Exchange of Scholars:.U.S. Studies review committee, Fulbright Senior Specialists Program 2002-
- Society of Composers, Inc, Executive Committee 1984-1993; Submissions Coordinator 1986-1993; Editor, “Newsletter”, American Composers Alliance 1974-1998 (Nominating Committee 1989, 1987, 1985)
- American Music Center, BMI (Broadcast Music Incorporated)
- Virginia Center for the Creative Arts 1985, 1986, 1988, 1990, 1991, 1993, 1995, 1997, 1999, 2001, 2002, 2005, 2007
- The Centrum Foundation 2003
- The Eastern Frontier 2003
- The Millay Colony 1999,
- Villa Montalvo Center for the Arts, 1998, 1996, 1987
- Yaddo 1997, 1991
- Djerassi Foundation, 1996
- Tyrone Guthrie Centre, Annemagkerrig, Ireland 1994
- Ragdale Foundation 1992, 1993, 1994
- Banff, Leighton Artist Colony, Banff, Alberta, Canada, 1989
- C.F. Peters
- Carl Fischer
- Capstone New Ariel Recordings
- Vienna Modern Masters
- Opus One