MOSCOW – Music, like life, is an adventure. Just ask Pulitzer prize winning composer Elliott Carter as he approaches his centennial birthday in four short months.

“I consider every piece of mine a musical adventure,” Carter said.

His music has set new standards for contemporary composers during the past century and this year, to honor Carter’s remarkable and long-lived career, musicians around the globe are honoring him by performing his works. Locally, music faculty from the University of Idaho and Washington State University will combine forces to perform tribute concerts to America’s elder musical statesman on Tuesday, Sept. 30, and Thursday, Oct. 2. Performances are at each campus.

“Elliott Carter has a thorny reputation,” admitted Leonard Garrison, professor of flute at the University of Idaho’s Lionel Hampton School of Music. Garrison first met Carter at the Oberlin Conservatory of Music when the composer accepted Garrison’s invitation to attend concerts celebrating Carter’s 70th birthday. “I want people to understand that his music is witty, charming and full of humanity, drama and character.”

Prior to the Carter Festival, Garrison and WSU School of Music clarinet instructor Shannon Scott will travel to Atlanta, Georgia
to perform a Carter concert on September 25.  This is part of the College Music Society National Conference.  Scott performed Carter’s Duet Hiyoku for two clarinets at Eastern Music Festival in North Carolina in July.  Scott and Garrison, along with WSU School of Music cello instructor Ruth Boden, presented a Carter concert at the National Flute Association Convention in Kansas City in August.

Garrison is coordinating music faculty at both Idaho and Washington State to perform works by Carter, including works that span the composer’s prolific career. The two days include free and ticketed events.


Tuesday, Sept. 30, 8 p.m., Bryan Hall, Washington State University, Library Road in Pullman, Wash.
The program includes: “Birthday Flourish for Brass Quintet” (1988); “Fantasy About Purcell’s ‘Fantasia Upon One Note’ for Brass Quintet” (1974); “Pastoral for English Horn and Piano,” arranged for alto saxophone (1940); “Canon for 3 – In Memoriam Igor Stravinsky”(1971); “Enchanted Preludes for Flute and Cello” (1988); “Eight Pieces for Four Timpani” (1950; revised, 1966); “Elegy for String Orchestra” (1939; arranged, 1952); “Scrivo in vento for Solo Flute” (1991); “Inner Song for Solo Oboe” (1992); “Retracing for Solo Bassoon” (2002); “Gra for Solo Clarinet” (1993); and “Woodwind Quintet” (1948).

Performers include Vern Sielert and Gary Gemberling, trumpets; Robert Dickow, horn; Alan Gemberling, trombone; Torrey Lawrence, tuba; Vanessa Sielert, alto saxophone; Kay Zavislak, piano; Shannon Scott, clarinet; Leonard Garrison, flute; Ruth Boden, cello; David Jarvis, timpani; Keri McCarthy, oboe; Ryan Hare, bassoon; Carol Padgham Albrecht, oboe; Roger Cole, clarinet; Susan Hess, bassoon; and the Washington State University Orchestra, conducted by Nicholas Wallin. 

Jonathan Bernard will give a pre-concert talk at 7 p.m. Admission is free.

Thursday, Oct. 2, 7:30 p.m., Recital Hall, Lionel Hampton School of Music, University of Idaho, 1010 Blake Ave. in Moscow 

The program includes: “Canonic Suite for Four Clarinets” (1939; revised, 1956); “Figment for Cello Solo” (1994); “A6 Letter Letter for Solo English Horn” (1996); “Piano Sonata” (1946); “Esprit Rude/Esprit Doux for Flute and Clarinet”(1984); Esprit Rude/Esprit Doux, II Flute, Clarinet, and Marimba” (1994); “Retrouvailles for Solo Piano” (2000); “Tell Me Where Is Fancy Bred” (1938) for voice and guitar; and “Eight Etudes and a Fantasy for Flute, Oboe, Clarinet and Bassoon” (1949).

Performers include Roger Cole, Tom Hess, Mac Cantrell and Lorie Enloe, clarinets; William Wharton, cello; Carol Padgham Albrecht, English horn; Jeffrey Savage, piano; Leonard Garrison, flute; Shannon Scott, clarinet; Quentin DeWitt, marimba; Kay Zavislak, piano; Sheila Converse, mezzo soprano; James Reid, guitar; Ann Marie Yasinitsky, flute; Keri McCarthy, oboe; and Ryan Hare, bassoon. 

Admission at the door is $5 for the general public; $3 for seniors and students.

Carter’s honors are numerous. He received two Pulitzer prizes in music; became the first composer to receive the U.S. National Medal of Arts; one of the few composers ever awarded Germany’s Ernst Von Siemens Music Prize; was made Commandeur dans l’Ordre des Arts et des Lettres by the French government; and is the only living composer elected to the Classical Music Hall of Fame. At age 99, he has created a body of more than 130 works, 30 of which were composed in the last 10 years, and nine of which were composed in 2007 alone.

Garrison has advocated Carter’s compositions for three decades and said he delights in both coordinating and performing in the upcoming concerts in the Palouse.

“Everyone who attends these performances will realize that they’re hearing music by the greatest living American composer and will truly gain an appreciation for Elliott Carter’s music,” he said. “This centennial celebration has enabled a great spirit of cooperation among musicians worldwide and here in the Palouse, where we honor and share the lifetime achievements of Elliott Carter with audience members and students in our communities.”

For more information about the Elliott Carter centennial events in Moscow and Pullman, contact Garrison at (208) 885-6709 or Information about the worldwide Carter centennial is available online at