Preconcert Interview
7:30pm, Saturday, April 7

Eugene Birman, 2018 composer in residence, and James Sofranko, choreographer and director of SFDanceworks, discuss their collaboration on The Sound of Your Solitude and Mine, a new work of music and dance inspired by Henry Cowell and Martha Graham's work together.


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A composer of music of "high drama" and "intense emotion" (BBC), "at once, ingenious, hypnotic, brave, and beautiful” (Festival Internazionale A.F. Lavagnino), Eugene Birman (b. 1987) has written for symphony orchestras (London Philharmonic, Minnesota Orchestra), choirs (BBC Singers, Latvian Radio Choir, Eric Ericsons Kammarkör), and leading ensembles and soloists (Maxim Vengerov, Divertimento Ensemble, Quartetto Prometeo) across four continents in venues ranging from London's Southbank Centre to Carnegie Hall to above the Arctic Circle. His highly public career, with appearances on CNN, BBC World TV, Radio France, and others, is characterized by a fearless focus on socially relevant large-scale compositions covering the financial crisis, Russian border treaties, and more. A Fulbright scholar and D.Phil recipient from the University of Oxford, he also holds degrees from Columbia University, the Juilliard School, and the Accademia Musicale Chigiana. For more: eugenebirman.com

 

About James Sofranko

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James Sofranko is originally from Cincinnati, Ohio, and received his dance training at The Harid Conservatory in Florida and later at The Juilliard School in New York City, where he received his BFA in dance. Upon graduation, he joined San Francisco Ballet, and was promoted to soloist in 2007.

He has danced in numerous works and world premieres by choreographers such as Helgi Tomasson, Val Caniparoli, William Forsythe, Liam Scarlett, Justin Peck, Alexi Ratmansky, Edwaard Liang, Lar Lubovitch, Wayne Macgregor, Mark Morris, Julia Adam, Yuri Possokhov, Christopher Wheeldon, Paul Taylor, Arthur Pita, Stanton Welch, Jorma Elo, Hans Van Manen, Jiri Kylian, John Neumeier, James Kudelka, Lila York, Kenneth Macmillan, George Balanchine, and Jerome Robbins. Some of his favorite roles include ‘Mercutio’ in Tomasson’s “Romeo and Juliet,” ‘Eros’ in Mark Morris’ “Sylvia,” ‘Bugle Boy’ in Taylor’s “Company B,” and the second sailor in Robbins’ “Fancy Free.”

He received an Isadora Duncan award (“Izzie”) for best performance in 2011 in Yuri Possokhov’s “Classical Symphony.” James was featured in the principal role of ‘Eddie’ in the Broadway touring company of “Movin’ Out,” a musical choreographed by Twyla Tharp to the songs of Billy Joel.

In 2012, he co-founded DanceFAR (Dance For A Reason), an annual benefit performance and after-party that brings the Bay Area dance community together to support the work of the Cancer Prevention Institute of California (CPIC). In 2014 he received the Inspiration Award from CPIC. To date, DanceFAR has raised over $450,000 in support of their programs and initiatives to prevent cancer.

In 2014, he formed a new contemporary repertory company in San Francisco, SFDanceworks. The first two seasons have played to sold out houses and the company has presented works by Alejandro Cerrudo, Lar Lubovitch, José Limón, and world premieres by Penny Saunders, James Graham, Danielle Rowe, Dana Genshaft, and James Sofranko.

He has also created many original choreographic works, including two for the San Francisco Ballet School Trainee program (Means to an End, Mozart Symphony), SFDanceworks (Z), Long Beach Ballet (Brandenberg), and Marin Dance Theater (The Beaten Path).  James also works as a repetiteur for Yuri Possokhov, resident choreographer for San Francisco Ballet, and has staged his ballets on Cincinnati Ballet, Colorado Ballet, and San Francisco Ballet.

In July of 2018, Sofranko will assume the position of artistic director of the Grand Rapids Ballet in Michigan, while continuing to develop and direct SFDanceworks.