Maestra Alsop and the Festival Orchestra will take audiences on an intriguing journey; first with two works that reflect Chinese culture, then with two works of sheer power and energy. The U.S. premiere of Grawemeyer Award-winning composer Sebastian Currier’s Quanta explores the inscrutable nature of Chinese written characters. Currier describes Quanta as a “sonic analogue to a series of Chinese characters, but from an outsider’s point of view. That is, they exhibit energy, gesture, form and emotion, but not meaning per se.” The Guardian celebrated Quanta as “a succession of vivid, fluidly-drawn, gestures. Each has its own intrinsic mood, sometimes almost theatrical, with the piece’s macro-structure gradually animating and increasing in tension before winding back down.”
Chinese-born American composer Huang Ruo’s vibrant and inventive musical voice draws equal inspiration from Chinese folk, Western avant-garde, rock, and jazz. The West Coast premiere of Ruo’s concerto The Color Yellow showcases the sheng, an ancient Chinese mouth-blown free reed instrument. Performing as soloist is Chinese-born Wu Wei, considered to be the world’s leading avant-garde sheng player. “When played with Wu’s virtuosity… it emerges seamlessly from the violins, traces long arcs of reedy breath like a clarinet, tremolos like a mandolin, or makes sudden, percussive mini-explosions.” (The Guardian).
Jonathan Newman’s compositions often incorporate styles of pop, blues, jazz, folk, and funk into otherwise classical models. Of his work, Blow it Up, Start Again, he says “If the system isn’t working anymore, then do what Guy Fawkes tried and go anarchist: Blow it all up, and start again.” The piece is “riotously funky” (Chicago Tribune) and includes elements of funk and dub-step.
The program rounds out with English composer Joby Talbot’s Chroma, a dynamic work originally commissioned by choreographer Wayne McGregor for a dance by the Royal Ballet in London. Chroma is comprised of seven pieces of music–four of which are Talbot’s original music and three are Talbot’s orchestral arrangements of three tracks by alt-rock band The White Stripes.
MEETUP! Talkback Session with Marin Alsop, the composers, and the guest artist follows the concert.