Music professor’s composition featured at Carnegie Hall

By Kaidi Ilves

“How do you get to Carnegie Hall?” goes the old joke. “Practice. Practice. Practice.”

allen cohen

Allen Cohen, professor of music and musical theater at Fairleigh Dickinson University’s Florham Campus, will have one of his compositions performed at Carnegie Hall, one of the most prestigious musical venues in the world, at 8 p.m. on Friday, Jan. 29.

Cellist Ruth Sommers and guitarist Oren Fader will perform Cohen’s composition, “Duo-Partita,” at the Weill Recital Hall in Carnegie Hall as part of the Festival Chamber Music concert series. Prior to the performance, Cohen will give a short talk about the piece.

“I am very gratified that my piece will be played at Carnegie Hall,” says Cohen. While having previously performed there himself, having his own music played there is a first for Cohen. He wrote “Duo-Partita” under commission by the Claremont Duo, a chamber music group who recorded the fifteen-minute piece on their album “Divertimento.”

“When writing the piece, I imagined the two players as friends who go through different phases of their relationship in each movement,” says Cohen. “I was pleasantly surprised by the two artists picking up my piece for their Carnegie Hall performance. They conducted an Internet search for compositions for cello and guitar, and fell in love with ‘Duo-Partita’ when they found it on my website.”

Cohen has written other compositions that have been recorded on commercial CDs and played around the world. Although he specializes in concert music, Cohen has written a number of dance arrangements for Broadway musicals, scores for off-Broadway shows, and music for several films and commercials on both radio and television. He has also written several scholarly articles and books, including a children’s book titled, “That’s So Funny I Forgot to Laugh!” which has sold more than half a million copies to date.

He says his strongest musical influences are the late romantics, such as Sergei Rachmaninoff, Richard Wagner, and Ralph Vaughan Williams, as well as some of the more modern American romantics, such as Aaron Copland, Leonard Bernstein, and Howard Hanson.