Clarice Assad

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    Assad teaching a workshop at the Saint Paul Conservatory for Performing Arts in 2016

    Brazilian-American Clarice Assad is a Grammy nominated composer, pianist and vocalist of musical depth and ability.  Described by the San Francisco Chronicle as "a serious triple threat", Assad is a vibrant, highly prolific and commissioned composer. Carefully crafted colorful textures permeate her soulful and musical world, which embraces a wide variety of styles, including her own original concepts.  

    World premieres for the 2017 season include commissions by the Cabrillo Festival Orchestra, Duo Noire, the Boston Classical Guitar Society, The Chicago Sinfonietta, OCAM, Jazz Meets Classical, arrangements for the New Century Chamber Orchestra and Chanticleer, among other exciting projects. Assad will be again joining her family for a tour in May and August in Brazil, and then leaves for Danmark for a one month long residency working with stellar local artists and giving workshops and masterclasses in the Copenhagen area.

    Assad’s music has also been commissioned by Carnegie Hall, Fundação OSESP,  Cabrillo Festival of Contemporary Music, the New Chamber Orchestra, Concordia Chamber Players, the Albany Symphony, the Harris Foundation, Pro Musica Chamber Orchestra, the BRAVO! Music Festival, La Jolla Music Festival, among others.  Her works has been recorded and performed by some of  the most prominent soloists and conductors today, including Nadja Salerno-Sonnenberg, Yo-Yo Ma, Mike Marshall, the Turtle Island String Quartet, LA Guitar Quartet, Anne-Marie McDermott, Eugenia Zuckerman, Ida Kavafian, Chanticleer, among others.  Her music has been performed by internationally acclaimed orchestras including the Philadelphia Orchestra, Tokyo Symphony, Queensland Symphony, the Orquestra Sinfônica de São Paulo, led by some of today’s most exciting conductors such as  Marin Alsop, David Alan Miller, Alondra de la Parra and Christoph Eschenbach.  

    Assad has served as Composer-in-Residence for the Albany Symphony, the Cabrillo Festival of Contemporary Music and the Boston Landmarks Orchestra.
     Ms. Assad is the recipient of such awards as the Aaron Copland Award, several ASCAP awards in composition, Meet The Composer's Van Lier Fellowship, League of American Orchestras, New Music USA, NPR’s All Songs Considered, American Lyric Theater, the Mcknight Visiting Composer Fellowship, the Jerome Foundation, American Composer Forum, the Franklin Honor Society, as well as a nomination from the Grammy Foundation for best contemporary composition. 

    As a performer, Assad has received acclaim for her performances of both original compositions and her own arrangements of popular Brazilian songs, world music and jazz standards.  She has performed at venues including Jazz at Lincoln Center in New York  City and Doha, Qatar, the Caramoor International Jazz Festival, Carnegie hall, The Metropolitan Museum of Art, Concertgebow in Amsterdam, San Francisco Jazz, Pick-Staiger Concert Hall in Chicago, Le Casino de Paris in Paris, France and the Palais des Beaux Arts in Brussels, Belgium.  Hailed by the LA Times as “
    A dazzling soloist,”   Assad sings in Portuguese, Spanish, French, Italian and English, but thrives in exploring the voice as an instrument, creating a vast array of innovative textures and incorporating an exciting vocabulary of extended techniques into her music.   
     
    Assad’s music is represented on Cedille Records, SONY Masterworks, Edge, Telarc, NSS Music, GHA and CHANDOS labels.   She has recorded four solo albums, the latest titled “IMAGINARIUM”, which features over 50 guests: a combination of professional and amateur instrumentalists and singers,which  has received stellar reviews from Jazz Times, Jazz Weekly, World Music Report and Songlines, among other publications.  The album was rated “the most startling Brazilian jazz album in years” and Assad was voted highly among the “Top 10 artists influencing Brazilian music today” by Wondering Sound.  

    She holds a Bachelor of Music degree with honors from the Roosevelt University and a Master of Music degree from The University of Michigan School of Music, where she studied with Michael Daugherty, Susan Botti and Evan Chambers. Her works are published in France (Editions Lemoine), Germany (Trekel), Criadores do Brasil (Brazil) and independently by Virtual Artists Collective Publishing, (VACP) a publishing company co-founded with poet and philosopher Steve Schroeder.  On its 10 year anniversary, VACP has published 55 volumes of poetry and music.  

  • PRESS QUOTES
    "Clarice Assad is quite simply a phenomenon who has streaked across the world’s musical landscape like one of those comets that appears just once in a lifetime" - LATIN JAZZ NETWORK

    "… a talent quite beyond compare. " - ALL MUSIC GUIDE

    "Vibrant, gear-shifting...a charismatic singer " - The New York Times

    "Dazzling Vocal Soloist " - LA Times

    "One of Brazil's Brightest Young Composers " - Gramophone

    "A Fine, fresh singer and pianist who is also a first rate story-teller " - Jazz Times

    "She negotiates the line between chamber jazz and classical music with the subltlest applications of her native rhythms. " - The Chicago Reader
    "A Serious Triple Threat. " - San Francisco Chronicle

    "A Veritable musical dynamo. " - San Francisco Classical Voice

    "A Talent Quite Beyond Compare. " - ALL MUSIC GUIDE

    Vigorous, fresh and totally unique composing voice - Mandolin Moments

    "Clarice Assad sings with intonation as precise as any digital device. She improvises cascading scales that taken on sparkling lives on their own. " - TUCSON CITIZEN

    "A virtuoso at the piano and the vocal cords - a classically trained natural talent, whose charismatic voice lifted all the brilliant vocal elements of meditative pleasure. " - UNT.SE

    "Her multi-faceted talent uncontainable as she energetically bends music to her will and reshapes it with fascinating results " - JAZZ IMPROV MAGAZINE

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  • A LONG TIME AGO
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    I was born in 1978 in a modest rural part of Rio de Janeiro, Brazil.  The country was still a dictatorship at that time.  During the first seven years of my life, there was an oppressive energy in the air, felt by everyone. As the switch toward democracy started to happen in 1985, rapid and rambling changes took place. My mother and grandmother had both been living pictures of that era.  
    My mother was pure democracy.  Though raised to become a housewife, she also decided to be one of the first women in her hometown to have the courage to dress in men's pants, to smoke cigarettes and to pursue higher education and, eventually, to work.  These were not morally good, lady-like behaviors and, to make matters worse, she was also the only woman in her family of nine siblings to obtain a divorce.  

    My grandmother, was definitely the dictator. Headstrong and authoritarian, she married too young and had nine children.  She was a very creative person but had been very repressed during her younger years.  So a great sense of frustration took hold of her and she began inflicting her personal disappointments upon those around her, especially, of course, the women.  She was probably not too happy to see all these women having opportunities in life other than marriage and children, a choice she did not ever have for herself.  I cannot imagine what it must have felt like for her.  

    As values in our society were changing, I found myself living in a universe of strong dichotomies.  There had been constant battles over whose ideals were right or wrong.  The fights, the yelling, the combats filled the air daily.  And, because of the vast size of the family, it was impossible, as a child, to be heard.  If you happened to be a child, it had felt as if you did not exist.  So, no matter how much or what I wanted to say, or how loud I’d try to be, no one cared.  At some point I became so frustrated, I stopped talking altogether and just started to sing.  

    From this point forward, whenever I felt conflict was about to arise, I would make music.  Lyrics and melodies would flow out of me in order to immediately express some funny remark about a situation which was clearly not funny at all when it occurred but, perhaps, because of its humorous nature, people became amused and stopped fighting for a second.  

    Before long, my entire life had become a soundtrack. Music represented emotions, people’s expressions, gestures. Everyone in my family had a theme.  Even friends of the family had a theme if they were cool enough to have one.  Sometimes a request would come whenever a guest walked through the door for me to start singing about whatever it was I had thought of them.  As a result, for a while, there was no fighting and no talk of dictatorship or democracy.  We seemed to be living in our own little European feudal system and I was its pocket sized troubadour, walking around from home to home making music happen.  

    And that is how I became a musician.  It was not a matter of anyone telling me practice and become a virtuoso.  No one cared enough about that, as they were too busy fighting.   I went willingly out of my own need for expression.  And, as time went by,  as music became a more intrinsic part of my life, filling that need for expressiveness to such a degree that it literally crippled my ability to express emotion through words even to some extent today.  Sometimes I struggle to articulate the simplest things.  Writing this has taken over 24 hours of my life to complete, for example. :)

    Most importantly, I believe I have learned to appreciate music and its power from a very young age.   I realize that, in many ways, music has saved me more on more than one occasion.  My emotional connection with music through singing and composing is strong, as a result, and it makes me an ever grateful person to have this this gift in my life.  Without music, I’d never have been heard and I’d still be screaming out loud, losing my voice, instead of possibly having one.  
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  • WE WILL BE SOON LAUNCHING A SECOND CALL FOR PERFORMERS ! CLARICE WILL WRITE A BRAND NEW PIECE FOR A CHAMBER MUSIC GROUP WHICH WILL BE CHOSEN BY PUBLIC VOTE. SUBMISSIONS WILL OPEN ON JUNE 2nd. STAY TUNED !
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