Western Piedmont Symphony Season Finale Features Two World Premieres

Season finale features works inspired by the music of Appalachia and the landscapes of America.

By: May. 08, 2024
Western Piedmont Symphony Season Finale Features Two World Premieres
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Western Piedmont Symphony will present MASTERWORKS: LANDSCAPES season finale concert featuring two world premieres by American composers and works inspired by regional landscapes on Thursday, May 16, at 7:30 p.m. at P.E. Monroe Auditorium on the campus of Lenoir-Rhyne University in Hickory.

The WPS season finale features not one, but two world premiere works, both inspired by an American setting. Kachina, a concerto for bassoon and orchestra composed and performed by Amber Ferenz, is about the land, spirits, and mythical figures of the Diné and Hopi peoples of Southwestern North America. The bassoon is at once and observer and participant, providing songs and commentary. Kachinas are paradoxically spirits and physical beings who bring blessings. Appalachian Vistas, a WPS commission for orchestra, is a piece composed by Daniel Perttu that conveys the spirit of the Appalachian landscape blended with the songs of the region's rich folk music traditions into a melodic, harmonic tone poem. The magnificence of the Southwest landscape is portrayed in the Western Piedmont Symphony's concert finale of the season. Conductor Matthew Troy leads the orchestra in Ferde Grofe's cinematic Grand Canyon Suite, which offers five musical scenes of one of the Seven Natural Wonders of the World.

"LANDSCAPES will be a thrilling close to our 59th season featuring two world premieres that illustrate the majestic qualities of our land and people," noted WPS music director Matthew Troy. "The symphony will also perform the sweeping and picturesque "Grand Canyon Suite" by Ferde Grofé, which captures the magic, mystery, and beauty of the American West," added Troy.

Western Piedmont Symphony's MASTERWORKS: LANDSCAPES is sponsored by the Kenneth K. Millholland and Suzanne G. Millholland Endowment Fund, Becky Ferrell, and Ann and John Hall, and with generous support from the United Arts Council of Catawba County and the North Carolina Arts Council.

MASTERWORKS tickets are $20, $30, $40, and $50, with $10 tickets available for students with valid ID. Purchase by visiting wpsymphony.org/tickets, call 828.324.8603, or visit the WPS Box Office, located on the SALT Block at 243 Third Avenue NE, Hickory, NC, 28601. Box Office hours are 10:00 a.m. to 4:00 p.m. Mon. - Fri. Concert venue is P.E. Monroe Auditorium on the Lenoir-Rhyne University campus, 775 6th St NE, Hickory, NC, 28601. Please note: All programs, artists, venues, prices, and dates are subject to change.

Western Piedmont Symphony's 2023-2024 season - MUSIC FOR YOU - expresses human stories and connections evident in each of the works or composers represented. The 59th season concludes with three free pop-up events, WPS Uncorked with the WPS Maestro's Quartet, on Thursday, May 9, May 30, and June 13, at 6:00 p.m.at the Hickory Wine Shoppe in downtown Hickory. These free, fun events are made possible by a Spark the Arts grant from the North Carolina Arts Council. For more information about the Western Piedmont Symphony 2023-2024 season of concerts and events, visit wpsymphony.org.

About the Artists:

Amber Ferenz, bassoonist and composer

Amber Ferenz is a nonbinary bassoonist and composer. Profoundly inspired by more than a decade of apprenticeship in indigenous medicine ways of the Americas and the magic and mystery of the natural world, they write lyrical, evocative pieces that weave together melodies and healing songs gifted by Nature.

Ferenz has been commissioned to write for solo bassoon, bassoon and piano, wind quartet, and bassoon and orchestra. Their most recent compositions include "Tales from the Grove" and "Unfinished Conversations" for bassoon and piano, "Wood, Water, and Roses: Women's Medicine for Difficult Times" and "Yellow Poplar with Birdsong" for solo bassoon, "Tall Tales" for bassoon quartet, and "Bullfrog Boogie" for contrabassoon octet, which was featured at the 2022 IDRS Convention. Commissioned by Winston-Salem based chamber group Elektra Winds, their first wind quartet, "These Four Directions," was an official selection for performance at the 2022 Music By Women Festival in Columbus, MS. TrevCo Music publishes their growing catalogue. Their composition "Songs for Wicked Children" for bassoon and piano featuring bassoonist Eric Van der Veer Varner was released as part of the album Compostela on the MSR Classics label in late 2022.

Ferenz received their Bachelor of Music in Bassoon Performance from the North Carolina School of the Arts, and their Master of Fine Arts in Western Orchestral Performance from the California Institute of the Arts. They teach bassoon at Gardner-Webb University, are a founding member of Elektra Winds and Queen City Winds, and serves as second bassoonist with the Asheville Symphony. Ferenz is also the contrabassoonist and interim orchestra librarian for the Greensboro Symphony, a frequent sub with the Charlotte Symphony, and the Camp Coordinator for the Glickman-Popkin Bassoon Camp since 2007 at the invitation of Mark Popkin.

Daniel Perttu, composer

Music has always been a kind of magic for me, a portal to other realms. When I was young, I was inspired by fantasy novels such as The Lord of the Rings, and I'm still drawn to myths and legends. I've written works on themes ranging from the planets, the sorcery of Merlin, and the Callanish Stone Circle, to the Torngat Mountains. My aim is to write music that invites audiences into other worlds, so they can re-discover their own sense of wonder. -- Daniel Perttu

Composers and writers whose works have influenced Perttu's music include Mahler, Shelley, Rautavaara, Barber, and Keats. Critic Lee Passarella notes the "modal strains [in Perttu's music] that recall the works of ... Ralph Vaughan Williams and Ernest Bloch" (Audiophile Audition). Perttu's music has been performed on four continents and in more than 40 of the United States. His concert opener Phoenix was released on a recording by the London Symphony Orchestra in October, 2022, and his "Spring" overture was recently recorded by the Moravian Philharmonic (Czech Republic).

Both recordings are on the GRAMMY-winning Navona Records label, an imprint of PARMA Recordings. His other international credits include performances by the Subotica Philharmonic and the Niš Symphony Orchestra (Serbia), and the Falcón Symphony Orchestra (Venezuela). In the states, his orchestral credits include the Flagstaff Symphony (Arizona), Wheeling Symphony (WV), Ohio Valley Symphony, Butler Philharmonic (Ohio), Sierra Vista Symphony (Arizona), Canton Symphony (Ohio), Muscatine Symphony (Iowa), Perrysburg Symphony (Ohio), Space Coast Symphony (Florida), Firelands Symphony (Ohio), Fox Valley Symphony (Wisconsin), Acadiana Symphony (Louisiana), Oklahoma Composers' Orchestra, Greenville Symphony (Pennsylvania), Orchestra Omaha, and Lakeland Civic Orchestra (Ohio).

Although Perttu always loved to compose, he was resistant to pursue composition as a career when he was young. As an undergraduate student, he hedged his bets by studying music and English. He also took numerous courses in psychology and neuroscience and even considered a career in law. When he was awarded a Jacob K. Javits Fellowship to study music in graduate school, he threw caution to the wind and decided to go "all in." It worked. Upon graduating with his doctorate in composition, he took a position as a music professor at the University of Louisiana at Lafayette and now teaches at Westminster College, where he also took his turn as the chair of the School of Music for two terms from 2014 through 2022. He lives with his wife and two amazing daughters in Neshannock, PA.

About Western Piedmont Symphony:

Western Piedmont Symphony (WPS) is the professional orchestra of the western foothills of North Carolina, based in Hickory. For 59 years, WPS has enriched and engaged the communities of western North Carolina through high-quality symphonic music with creative, relevant performances, and educational opportunities for all ages. Each season, the Symphony presents an inspiring classical Masterworks series, a fun and unique Foothills Pops series, varying ensembles in the Crossroads series, family-friendly Discovery concerts, plus education and community engagement programs in the Catawba Valley, all under the artistic direction of Maestro Matthew Troy. Western Piedmont Symphony is supported by the North Carolina Arts Council and is a funded affiliate of the United Arts Council of Catawba County. Business offices are located at the SALT Block at 243 Third Avenue NE, Hickory. Box Office hours are 10:00 a.m. to 4:00 p.m. Mon. - Fri. For more information about Western Piedmont Symphony, call 828-324-8603, visit wpsymphony.org, or email info@wpsymphony.org.


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