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Gabriella Smith: Tumblebird Contrails [World Premiere | Festival Commission]
John Adams: Saxophone Concerto (Timothy McAllister, saxophone) [West Coast Premiere]
Brett Dean: Fire Music [U.S. Premiere]
It’s an evening of anticipated firsts with one world premiere commission, one U.S. premiere and one West Coast premiere. Opening the concert is a new work by Gabriella Smith, a young composer from the San Francisco Bay Area who started composing at the age of eight. Smith was selected by renowned composer John Adams in an ongoing partnership with the Festival to identify the most promising of the next generation of creators; this piece was commissioned by the Pacific Harmony Foundation, which was recently established by Adams and his wife Deborah O’Grady.
The evening continues with the West Coast premiere of John Adams’ Saxophone Concerto, featuring Timothy McAllister, a soloist known and admired by Festival audiences. With this work, Adams brings to the forefront an instrument that is often an outlier in the world of classical music. Adams, whose father played in swing bands, grew up hearing the saxophone almost every day, and he explains that the source of this concerto was his “life-long exposure to the great jazz saxophonists, from the swing era through the likes of Coltrane, Eric Dolphy and Wayne Shorter.” McAllister is hailed as “one of the foremost saxophonists of his generation” (The New York Times) and was both an inspiration and an ideal soloist for this concerto. The Baltimore Sun’s Tim Smith wrote that Adams’ score “deftly fuses classical and jazz elements to create a cohesive, arresting experience.”
The U.S. premiere of Fire Music, a work by Grawemeyer-winning composer Brett Dean, closes out Saturday night’s program. Dean wrote Fire Music in response to the “Black Saturday” bushfires of 2009, a catastrophic series of fires that took place across the Australian state of Victoria, and resulted in the country’s highest ever loss of life from a bushfire. Dean wrote, “whilst the 2009 fires obviously had utterly disastrous consequences, fire can also cleanse and replenish; these thoughts, as well as its use in ritual, informed aspects of my Fire Music.” As The Australian proclaimed, “augmented by electric guitar and percussion, its sonic canvas is huge and sophisticated…It is a towering masterpiece.”
MEETUP! The concert is followed by an outdoor dessert reception for the entire audience and orchestra!