Memorial concerts dedicated to composers, musicians and arts executives are regular occurrences, and richly deserved. Tributes to benefactors are far less common—but then, there was nothing common about Ralph Kaminsky, to judge by the caliber of the performers who will gather this week for a potent salute to his impact within New York’s contemporary-music scene.
A native of Western Canada, Kaminsky served as an academic in his homeland, then played a role in the growing field of urban planning. After completing assignments for the United Nations and the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development, he joined the New York University faculty, eventually serving as a dean. In the two decades after his retirement, Kaminsky lent invaluable support to significant composers and performers, not least through monthly new-music listening salons he held in the home he shared with his wife, Hester Diamond. “Ralph Kaminsky was a most inspiring advocate and supporter of contemporary classical music,” wrote Thomas Stelzer, assistant secretary-general of the United Nations, in a statement provided to TONY. “Like every member of his Listening Group, I thoroughly enjoyed his comprehensive knowledge and wonderful generosity as host of our scintillating Saturday afternoon concerts.”
Paying homage at Merkin is an almost unprecedented convocation of New York new-music talent: Alarm Will Sound, the Argento Ensemble, Either/Or, the International Contemporary Ensemble, the JACK Quartet and the Talea Ensemble. The program includes works by some of the composers Kaminsky appreciated most: Gérard Grisey, Giacinto Scelsi, Matthias Pintscher, Olga Neuwirth, Marc-André Dalbavie and Arvo Pärt.—Steve Smith
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