American Composers Orchestra, with special guests Rossen Milanov (conductor), Sharon Isbin (guitar), Rehanna Thelwell (narrator), David Tinervia (baritone), and R. Luke DuBois (video), presents an evening of works by contemporary composers. Featuring premieres from Bright Sheng (New York premiere), Nina C. Young (world premiere), and Carlos Simon (world premiere) alongside a guitar concerto by John Corigliano.
For more information about this program, visit the ACO website here.
Program (Order subject to change)
Postcards by Bright Sheng (b. 1955)
I. From the Mountains
II. From the River Valley
III. From the Savage Land
IV. Wish You Were Here
Out of whose womb came the ice for baritone, orchestra, and electronics by Nina C. Young (b. 1984)
Portrait of a Queen by Carlos Simon (b. 1986)
World Premiere, ACO/Underwood commission
Troubadours: Variations for Guitar and Orchestra by John Corigliano (b. 1938)
About the Program
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. –John Corigliano
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. –Nina C. Young
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. –Bright Sheng
American Composers Orchestra, now in its 40th season, is the only orchestra in the world dedicated to the creation, performance, preservation, and promulgation of music by American composers. ACO makes the creation of new opportunities for American composers and new American orchestral music its central purpose. Through concerts at Carnegie Hall and other venues, recordings, internet and radio broadcasts, educational programs, New Music Readings, and commissions, ACO identifies today’s brightest emerging composers, champions prominent established composers as well as those lesser-known, and increases regional, national, and international awareness of the infinite variety of American orchestral music, reflecting geographic, stylistic, and temporal diversity. ACO also serves as an incubator of ideas, research, and talent, as a catalyst for growth and change among orchestras, and as an advocate for American composers and their music. americancomposers.org
“American Composers Orchestra has brought to the city a repertory of music of our time which leaves all the major American orchestras far behind.” -The New York Times
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