Resonance Chamber Orchestra and Chorus Will Return to the Concert Hall with ...OF DARK AND BRIGHT
On March 21 and 22, 2020, the Resonance Chamber Orchestra and Chorus will return to the concert hall with ... of Dark and Bright featuring one of the first US performances of Missy Mazzoli's remarkable new concerto for double bass Dark with Excessive Bright and Pulitzer Prize winner Caroline Shaw's To the Hands for chorus and strings. With further works by Ottorino Respighi, Chen Yi and Gabriela Lena Frank, the whole of this program explores modern-era works that have been inspired by music and musical traditions of the past.
Missy Mazzoli's Dark with Excessive Bright was jointly commissioned by the Australian Chamber Orchestra and the Aurora Orchestra and received its world premiere on tour on February 1, 2018. A concerto for double bass and chamber orchestra, the work was inspired by bassist Maxime Bibeau's instrument itself, which was constructed in 1585. As Mazzoli explains, "...I imagined the instrument as a sort of historian, that could accumulate melodies and history, and that this piece would be [the instrument] sort of telling its story." The title of the work, Dark with Excessive Bright, is taken from Milton's Paradise Lost and is a phrase that according to the composer seems to describe the double bass itself, which produces a very dark sound that is enchanted by a kind of luminosity. Interestingly enough, Milton, whose father was a composer, received a thorough musical education which is often alluded to in his poetry.
To helm this remarkable new composition, Resonance Works will be joined by guest soloist Jeffrey Turner. Turner joined the Pittsburgh Symphony Orchestra in 1987 and served as principal bassist from 1992 until his retirement in 2018 when he joined the faculty of Indiana University's Jacobs School of Music as professor of music in double bass. In Turner's words:
"I am delighted to have the chance to play one of the newest bass concertos with Maria and Resonance Works! There is tremendous international interest in this piece, and many of my friends and respected colleagues have just completed local premieres or are in the process of preparing the work for performance. Bringing this work to Pittsburgh for its local premiere is not only a wonderful opportunity for me to serve a community that I love, but a great sign of the Pittsburgh region's vibrant and growing new music scene."
Paired with this exciting Pittsburgh premiere will be another first for the city, Pulitzer Prize winning composer Caroline Shaw's To the Hands. Shaw's piece is written for voices and strings and draws its inspiration from the Ad Manus movement of Deitrich Buxtehude's 17th century masterpiece Membra Jesu Nostri. The work was commissioned in 2016 by Philadelphia's The Crossing as part of artistic director Donald Nally's Seven Responses series. Built upon plainchant and fragments of Latin texts from Buxtehude's seminal work, Shaw incorporates modern texts including elements of Emma Lazarus' 1883 sonnet The New Colossus, whose famous lines adorn the base of the Statue of Liberty, as well as figures of displaced persons by country, sourced from the Internal Displacement Monitoring Centre (IDMC). According to Shaw, these additions emphasize the piece's core considerations, which include "the suffering of those around the world seeking refuge, and of our role and responsibility in these global and local crises." Last November, Resonance Works audiences were teased with a sample of this wonderful work in the season opener, The National Anthems.
Resonance Works will present further repertoire that has looked to the past for inspiration. Ottorino Respighi's Ancient Airs & Dances, Suite 3 is an embellished transcription of lute music from Renaissance Italy, while Gabriela Lena Frank's Leyendas: An Andean Walkabout and Chen Yi's Shuo both look to the composers' ancestral folk traditions of Peru and China respectively. To frame these profound new works, the evening will open with Kaija Saariaho's Changing Light, a short meditation on (according to the composer) "the uncertainty of existence," featuring soprano soloist Katy Williams and violin soloist Dawn Posey. The Saariaho will be paired with Ruth Crawford Seeger's Andante for Strings.
From within the intimate setting of Levy Hall, at Shadyside's historic Rodef Shalom Congregation, this special program promises to stand out as a highlight in Pittsburgh's Spring 2020 concert season.
Single tickets are on sale for these and the rest of the performances in Resonance Works' 7th season at www.resworks.org/tickets. Special rates are available for senior citizens and students.