Andrew Rindfleisch, Composer
2002 cleveland arts prize for Music
For a composer still in his 30s to have received the recognition and acclaim Andrew Rindfleisch has
earned is extraordinary. In the past several years, his compositions
have enjoyed almost 200 professional performances around the world, and
he has been awarded 35 national and international prizes, making him
one of the most decorated (and sought-after) composers in the United
States and a leading composer of his generation.
His music has been praised for its “drama, intensity and variety” (The Boston Globe).
One might add: versatility. His compositions range from the melodic and
more tonally oriented to the more adventurous. The “colors” he achieves
through his use of harmonic manipulation and orchestration contribute
to the music’s appeal.
Born in Wisconsin in 1963, Rindfleisch earned his bachelor’s and master’s
degrees from the University of Wisconsin at Madison and the New England
Conservatory of Music and his Ph.D. from Harvard University. He has
been a professor of music composition at Cleveland State University
(CSU) since 1998.
while still a student, he won a Guggenheim Fellowship; the following
year, the prestigious Rome Prize. More recent honors have included the
2001 Aaron Copland Award, the Charles Ives Fellowship from the American
Academy of Arts and Letters, a Fromm Commission from Harvard University
and, in 2000, a Koussevitsky Commission from the Library of Congress,
the most important commissioning foundation in America.
The work that resulted, a 20-minute piece for wind ensemble titled The Light Fantastic, was given its world premiere by the Cleveland Chamber Symphony in September 2001. It is a good example both of the composer’s
playful streak and of why audiences find his music so immediately
engaging. The opening movement, “Squaring Off,” begins, wrote the Plain Dealer,
“with Coplandesque open harmonies, brassy sonorities and syncopated
rhythms that burst into a hoedown for winds. The slow movement,
‘Sarabanding,’ looks back to the nobility of the baroque with melodic
fragments that rise and fall in nostalgic harmonies and billowing
dynamics. ‘Do the Hustle’ then fast-forwards to 1970s grooves that
propel the music forward in jazzy rhythms, brassy timbres and a clever
reference to ‘I Could Have Danced All Night.’”
A series of short compositions for solo instruments—Reverie for Piano, Tears (for flute) and Hallucinations (for viola)—rub elbows in his catalog with exuberant pieces for small chamber groups with titles like Circus Music, What Vibes! and Fanatical Dances. The quality of these works and his consummate mastery of his craft have
brought Rindfleisch some 24 invited residencies over the past 10 years,
at other universities, summer festivals and artist colonies around the
U.S. and abroad.
He has also made a vital contribution to Cleveland’s cultural life. In the spring of 1999, he founded a concert series called New Music Associates, which presents programs of contemporary music several times a year performed by ensembles led by Rindfleisch in CSU’s
Drinko Recital Hall. He is associate conductor and director of the
Cleveland Chamber Symphony. In 2004 he will become that nationally
acclaimed ensemble’s music director.
As founder and music director of Boston’s
contemporary music ensemble, Phantom Arts, Rindfleisch won bravos for
his concert programs, which featured the work of composers ranging from
Elliott Carter and Morton Feldman to Eric Dolphy and Frank Zappa. He
has turned all of these diverse influences into music of his own that
is both distinctive and memorable.