Iván Enrique Rodríguez: A Metaphor for Power (West Coast Premiere)
Kevin Puts: Second Oboe Concerto: Moonlight (Katherine Needleman, oboe) (West Coast Premiere)
Andrea Reinkemeyer: Water Sings Fire
Mason Bates: The Art of War (Mason Bates, electronica) (West Coast Premiere)
Our opening program tackles hard subjects: war, the abuse of power, peaceful resistance. In the view of Maestro Macelaru, music can and should say something about the struggles of our time, in real time. Mason Bates does just that with Art of War, his symphonic exploration of human conflict—specifically, of the long U.S. involvement in Iraq and Afghanistan, where his brother served as a marine. Among the most “extraordinary colorists in music today” (San Jose Mercury News), Bates has been composer-in-residence for the Chicago Symphony and the Kennedy Center—and is also a DJ, at home with electronics. In Art of War, he serves as soloist, triggering field recordings with his laptop – the sounds of money being printed at the U.S. Mint and artillery shells exploding during exercises at Camp Pendleton.
Another great colorist, Pulitzer Prize-winner Kevin Puts, presents his Second Oboe Concerto: Moonlight, composed in the aftermath of the 2016 presidential election. With its orchestral depictions of “brutish” and “threatening” behavior in Washington, D.C., he says, the piece mirrors his struggle with the nation’s “dark time.” Yet turbulence gives way to Puts’ signature, long-breathed melodies—and a sense of hope, inspired by Beethoven and director Barry Jenkins’ 2016 film Moonlight. When the Baltimore Symphony premiered the concerto two years ago, soloist Katherine Needleman’s oboe suggested “a beacon of purity rising above” the orchestra (Baltimore Sun).
While Bates and Puts have been Cabrillo favorites for years, tonight’s program also introduces a pair of composers to the Festival. Andrea Reinkemeyer explores “a reverent sound world that hovers just above the brink of silence” (Second Inversion). Her Water Sings Fire feels oceanic, ebbing and flowing, as if giving voice to the sorrows and aspirations of disenfranchised people. It is dedicated “to women who sing truth though the world rains fire upon them.”
Finally, 20-something composer Iván Enrique Rodríguez offers A Metaphor for Power, his essay on struggle, survival and the Latinx experience in America. It packs a world of emotion: turbulence, love, pain—and interior musings summed up by a plaintive solo trumpet. The work’s title alludes to a statement by novelist James Baldwin, who had much to say about the role of art in society: “Artists are here to disturb the peace. They have to disturb the peace. Otherwise, chaos.”