The North/South Chamber Orchestra Presents AMERICAN PROMISE

The performance is on February 23, 2023.

By: Feb. 17, 2023
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The North/South Chamber Orchestra Presents AMERICAN PROMISE

The North/South Chamber Orchestra under the direction of Max Lifchitz performs five recent works by living composers from the US and around the world on Thursday evening, February 23, 2023.

The free-admission event will start at 8 PM and end around 9:15 PM.

It will take place at the intimate and acoustically superior auditorium of Christ & St Stephen's Church (120 West 69th St - between Broadway and Columbus) on Manhattan's Upper West Side. First come, first served. No registration or ticket required.

Wearing a mask while in the auditorium is optional but strongly encouraged.

The program will open with the first performance of Live Images by the Venezuelan-American composer Alexandro Rodriguez. Active as guitarist and arranger, Rodriguez has collaborated with many Latino musicians including Ray Mantilla, Mario Bauza, and Eddie Palmieri. Rodriguez's recent compositions have been inspired by the political, social, and economic crisis that Venezuela is experiencing. His Live Images is based on a series of unexpected events all of which the composer visualized as if a fast-motion movie was projected in his mind helping him face difficulties and find different paths to achieve new goals.

Xuesi Xu's Tea of Oblivion will also receive its first performance. An emerging Chinese composer who trained at Florida State University and the Shanghai Conservatory of Music, Xu draws inspiration from current events as well as a mixture of Western and East Asian cultures. Tea of Oblivion, a chamber orchestra composition in one continuous movement, poignantly portrays a sense of fatality in the face of the pandemic while evocatively portraying the reincarnation in Chinese mythology.

The first half of the program will conclude with the premiere of a work written for the occasion by San Francisco-based Sheli Nan. According to the composer, "American Promise aims to evoke the country's magnificent tapestry of natural beauty, differing peoples, the colors of hope and energy, life and love. Woven throughout the music is our indomitable spirit, our willingness to go beyond our limitations, our generosity, and our innovation. Like this music we vary in our rhythms, our textures, our positions, and our strengths. And yet this pulsing blinding optimism that makes us who we are shines through all that we accomplish with kindness integrity, intelligence, and defies boundaries." Nan's Baroque and Classical training coupled with having lived all over the world inform her uniquely 21st century harmonies. Her style is fresh, invigorating, accessible and moving.

After intermission, the concert will continue with the premiere performance of Waiting for Godot (Pandemic Meditations) by the Turkish-American composer Münir Beken. Beken currently serves as professor of world music theory and composition and director of the Music of Turkey Ensemble at the University of California Los Angeles (UCLA). Last November, the Bayerische Kammerphilharmonie Orchestra in Munich, Germany, performed the world premiere of his Memorias Liminal. A distinguished ud virtuoso, Beken's recordings appear on the Rounder Records and North/South labels. Concerning his composition, Beken writes: "Waiting for Godot is an eclectic work inspired by the recent pandemic. While Samuel Beckett's well-known play provided its title, the piece also reflects absurd musical gestures as in the works of Albert Camus and a kind of magical realism as in the works of Gabriel Garcia Marquez, where one can hear the rebelling motive from Hector Berlioz's Symphonie Fantastique, Sisyphus pushing the boulder uphill as he watches it roll down again and again, musical modes from the Jewish Hasidic Nigunim, the famous quote of the Gregorian chant Dies Irae, an Islamic chant reciting God is greater, as well as Black and white television broadcasting pop music with poor reception. The virtuosic writing allows the instruments to exhibit their superb coloristic capabilities."

The concert will close with the first US performance of a work by Austrian Richard Heller titled Viennese Chamber Music. Heller studied at the Vienna State University of Music and the University of Vienna. After graduation he worked as a contributor to the music department of the Austrian TV while teaching music theory in Augsburg/Germany at the Leopold Mozart Conservatory. His music has been performed and broadcast in numerous European countries as well as in Japan, South Africa, Argentina, and the US. Many of his works are available on recordings. His style aims to balance emotion and construction for the professional and the listener alike. The harmonies of his works echo jazz harmonies intermingled with tonality and atonality.

North/South Consonance's concert activities are made possible with public funds from the New York State Council on the Arts and the New York City Department of Cultural Affairs. Additional support from the BMI Foundation, the Music Performance Trust Fund, the Zethus Fund, and numerous generous individual donors is gratefully acknowledged.