Tuesday, May 23, 2017 at 8 PM
Peter Jay Sharpe Theatre @ Symphony Space
JOHN CORIGLIANO Troubadours: Variations for Guitar & Orchestra
with Sharon Isbin, guitar
CARLOS SIMON Portrait of a Queen
with Rehanna Thelwell, narrator
(World Premiere – ACO/Underwood Commission)
NINA C. YOUNG Out of whose womb came the ice for baritone, orchestra and electronics
(World Premiere – ACO/Jerome Foundation Commission)
with David Tinervia, baritone, and R. Luke DuBois, video
BRIGHT SHENG Postcards
ACO begins its new collaboration with Symphony Space with a concert that explores the music’s incredible ability to tell stories and weave tales, ACO Parables, led by guest conductor Rossen Milanov.
The concert includes John Corigliano’s Troubadours: Variations for Guitar and Orchestra featuring star guitarist Sharon Isbin, for whom the piece was written; the world premiere of Portrait of a Queen for ACO by 2016 Underwood New Music Readings commission winner Carlos Simon; the world premiere of Nina C. Young’s Out of whose womb came the ice featuring baritone David Tinervia with video by R. Luke DuBois, which tells the story of Sir Ernest Shackleton’s Antarctic expedition of 1914-17; and the New York premiere of Postcards by Bright Sheng, with four short movements in a folk music style from different regions in China.
40th Anniversary press release can be found here
In the Composers’ Own Words:
JOHN CORIGLIANO Troubadours
For me, the compositional process starts well before the generation of actual musical ideas. Troubadours began with guitarist Sharon Isbin nearly 13 years ago. At that time, she asked if I would write her a concerto, and I was decidedly lukewarm about the idea. The challenges of writing for a highly idiomatic instrument that I didn’t fully understand were augmented by my dislike of most “idiomatic” guitar music, as well, as my fear of writing a concerto for an inherently delicate instrument. But Sharon persisted. She sent me scores, tapes, and letters with ideas on the kind of concerto it could be. When I received a letter from her some years ago with articles about the age of the troubadours, and particularly some celebrated women troubadours, I started thinking about the idea of serenading and of song. Slowly the conception of a troubadour concerto began to form. During this process the crystallization of what I love most about the guitar took place: it is an instrument that has always been used to speak directly to an audience. Lyrical, direct, and introspective, it has a natural innocence about it that has attracted amateurs and professionals, young and old.
CARLOS SIMON Portrait of a Queen
Women have always been the pillar in the African-American community. My piece, Portrait of a Queen, will trace the evolution of black people in America from the prospective of the African-American female who represents strength, courage and selflessness. Through four movements, representing different places in time (Africa, Plantation/Slavery, Southern Jim Crow and Present Day), I will express her pride, sorrow, anger, and nurturing character. Each movement will be marked by short poetic statements that depict her emotions during her journey from Africa to present day. Here’s an example of the poetry:
I am Queen
Strength rest upon my head: a gold-dipped crown adorned with jewels of Patience, Kindness and Wisdom that shine diamond bright.
Like a baby wrapped on my back in swaddling silk, I first nurtured it in my womb.
Created a love so deep.
NINA C. YOUNG Out of whose womb came the ice
Out of whose womb came the ice creates a sonic and visual glimpse of a segment of the Imperial Trans-Antarctic Expedition (1914-17). In August 1914, at the onset of WWI, polar explorer Sir Ernest Shackleton gathered a crew of 27 men and set sail for the South Atlantic. They were in pursuit of the last unclaimed prize of the Heroic Age of Exploration: to be the first to cross the Antarctic continent by foot. Upon entering the Weddell Sea, they encountered unusually foul weather. Weaving south through the treacherous seas of ice, their ship, the Endurance, became trapped only 85 miles from their destination. After months of waiting for the ice to break, the ship was crushed and sank, leaving the crew stranded upon the ice floes without any means of contacting the outside world. In pursuit of survival, Shackleton and his crew endured 22 months traversing ice floes up the Antarctic Peninsula. The final leg included a deadly 800-mile open boat journey in their lifeboat, the James Caird, in hopes of reaching South Georgia Island. The crew was rescued on August 30, 1916; everyone survived. Though this expedition failed, it remains one of the most miraculous stories of polar exploration and human survival.
BRIGHT SHENG Postcards
In 1997, I was approached by the St. Paul Chamber Orchestra for a commission. I was told that I was selected from 10 composers by the commissioner Ruth and John Huss, who were the patrons of the orchestra and chose me to write a work in celebration of their silver wedding anniversary. I subsequently had a nice conversation with the Husses and was told that they chose me because my music reminded them of their fantastic trip to China a few years earlier. So I thought a selection of music postcards from various places in China would be appropriate for the occasion. Thus I based each of these four short movements on a folk music style from different regions in China. Postcards was premiered on January 22, 1999 in St. Paul’s Ordway Theater by the St. Paul Chamber Orchestra conducted by Hugh Wolff, and is dedicated to Ruth and John Huss.