Astral announces new Artistic Director

PHILADELPHIA, PA—Astral announces today that composer Dan Visconti, who served as Astral’s Artistic Advisor for the past season, will move into the role of Artistic Director at the start of the 2017-2018 season. As part of the staff leadership, Visconti will help lead Astral’s programming into the future, to develop a vision for the modern musician who is creative, collaborative, and responsive.

Active as a composer, concert curator, and writer about music, Visconti is updating the role of classical musicians for the 21st century. He was awarded a 2014 TED Fellowship, and delivered a TED Talk at the conference’s 30th anniversary about reimagining music as a form of cultural and civic service that addresses social issues.

About his new appointment, Visconti says, “In my role as Astral’s new Artistic Director, I’ll be working closely with the staff to redefine career development for the 21st-century musician, at a time when competition for a young artist is as much Netflix and YouTube as it is other classical musicians.”

One of the leading composers of his generation, Visconti also serves as Director of Artistic Programming at Chicago’s Fifth House Ensemble, praised by The New York Times for its “conviction, authority and finesse.” He is also composer-in-residence at the ensemble’s annual fresh inc festival, where he works with young musicians on cultivating musical careers in line with their own unique vision and values.

Visconti continues, “Building on founder Vera Wilson’s vision of nurturing the total artist, my work will include spearheading adventurous new projects that allow our artists to experiment while cultivating their own unique community of collaborators. By developing skills and strategies for sustaining authentic lives as artists, members of Astral’s roster will be world-class – not just as musicians, but as citizens, entrepreneurs, and cultural ambassadors.”

Astral’s Executive Director Julia Rubio says this about the appointment, “Working with Dan this past season has brought a fresh perspective on emerging artists and modern audiences. I am thrilled to bring Dan on in this deeper capacity, and to integrate his ideas and leadership into Astral’s future plans.”

Visconti’s compositions have been described by the Cleveland Plain Dealer as “both mature and youthful, bristling with exhilarating musical ideas and a powerfully crafted lyricism.” Commission credits include works written for the Kronos Quartet, eighth blackbird, Opera Philadelphia, Beth Morrison Projects, the JACK Quartet, Alarm Will Sound, Da Capo Chamber Players, the Scharoun Ensemble of the Berlin Philharmonic, Silk Road Project percussionist Shane Shanahan, guitarist Jason Vieaux, soprano Lucy Shelton, and many others. His music has been performed at such venues as Carnegie Hall, Alice Tully Hall, the Kennedy Center for the Performing Arts, Los Angeles’s Disney Hall, London’s Barbican Theatre, and the Sydney Opera House. He has also held composer residencies, including those with the California Symphony, Arkansas Symphony, and the Metropolitan Opera.

Visconti’s music has been recognized with the Rome Prize, the Berlin Prize, and awards from the Koussevitzky Foundation at the Library of Congress, Fromm Foundation, Naumburg Foundation, and the American Academy of Arts and Letters. He is a contributing writer for The Huffington Post and has recently had speaking engagements at the Clinton School for Public Service, the National Archive, and the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame.

Visconti will serve as the second Artistic Director in Astral’s history. Julian Rodescu was Artistic Director from 2009 until his death in 2011, following a long association with the organization.

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