San José Chamber Orchestra to Present Three New Works By American Composers

The program will be held on April 2nd.

By: Mar. 25, 2023
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San José Chamber Orchestra to Present Three New Works By American Composers

The San José Chamber Orchestra (SJCO) will present NEW SOUNDS on Sunday April 2, 2023 at 7 pm at the St Francis Episcopal Church, 1025 Pine Avenue, San José 95125.

The program includes three new works by American composers including Vivian Fung: Trumpet Concerto (co-commissioned by SJCO); Durwynne Hsieh: Symphony #1 for Chamber Orchestra, World Premiere, climate change inspired work (commissioned by SJCO); and Elizabeth Jonasson: Wind through the Poplar Trees, World Premiere, Winner 2021 Allen Strange Memorial Composition Prize.

The conductor is Barbara Day Turner and the concert will feature guest artist trumpet soloist Mary Elizabeth Bowden.

Vivian Fung's Trumpet Concerto is a virtuosic, tour de force work displaying the capabilities of the Eb Flugelhorn and Piccolo Trumpet, and stretches the imagination to what is possible for the instruments. Written for trumpeter Mary Elizabeth Bowden, the concerto originally was inspired by a conversation about Mary's journey in her solo career, in general, and as a woman in a male-dominated field. Ideas of striving, overcoming challenges, frustration, passion, and ultimately joy and celebration are all explored in this piece. Rather than composing the work in movements, the composer has chosen to organize the piece as a continuous work with various episodes, including a toe-tapping march, a lamentful and stormy chant, a more contemplative section for flugelhorn leading to a hip-hop inspired dance. The materials ultimately culminate in a chaotic frenzy that recaps many of the materials and builds to a triumphant ending on the piccolo trumpet.

Durwynne Hsieh's Symphony #1 explores how we humans cause and respond to impending environmental trouble, more from the point of view of an ordinary person rather than that of an expert. In the first movement, Unsustainable, it sounds like we're waking up in the morning and just proceeding through the day doing what we do, a tribute to the idea that we don't have to go out of our way to perform unsustainable acts to have that effect. Pacific Garbage Patch depicts the Pacific Trash Vortex, which is a very large area of the North Pacific Ocean where ocean currents have collected and concentrated a lot of human-created refuse, especially plastic, but also other materials. This movement features the percussion section playing various types of plastic, glass, and metal trash. Otherwise, it's an ugly, tepid ocean scene, with waves, birds that get sick, and a couple of references to Debussy's La Mer. Denial is a series of dances and other distractions, but it is good to remember that no matter what dance of denial you do, the alarming reality of the situation is still there. The final movement, If Only We're Brave Enough to Be It, takes its title from the last line of Amanda Gorman's poem, The Hill We Climb. Read at the inauguration of President Joseph Biden, the poem sees America as imperfect, but with the ability to overcome its deepest problems.


Vivian Fung is a Canadian born composer, who lived in the Rose Garden neighborhood of San Jose (currently living in Kensington) who writes music for orchestras, operas, quartets, and piano. Her compositions have been performed internationally. Fung was born in Edmonton, Alberta. She began composition. studies with Violet Archer and later studied with Narcis Bonet in Paris. Bio:

Durwynne Hsieh grew up in Upstate New York, but for many years has lived and composed music in the San Francisco Bay Area, currently living in Antioch. His compositions have been heard throughout the region, across the U.S., and in Europe, and they cover the range from solo works to chamber music to orchestra and vocal music, and have included commissions/performances from the Toledo Symphony, Tassajara Symphony, San José Chamber Orchestra, Marin Symphony, Sonnet Ensemble, and the Mendocino, West Marin, and Music in the Mountains music festivals, as well as community, school, and youth groups. Bio:

Elizabeth Jonasson is a composer living in Santa Cruz, California. Currently a graduate student at San Jose State University studying composition with Pablo Furman, before attending SJSU she studied with Vivian Fung at Santa Clara University, and Fred Squatrito at Cabrillo College. In addition to producing two CDs she composed works for accompanied voice, choir, piano, string orchestra, and various chamber ensembles. Website:

Classical Trumpeter Mary Elizabeth Bowden has built an in-demand career as a soloist, praised for her "splendid, brilliant" playing (Gramophone Magazine) and her "pure, refined, and warm" tone (American Record Guide). A Gold Medal Global Music Award Winner, Opus Klassik Nominee, and Yamaha Performing Artist, she has also worked to establish a new repertoire for the trumpet through creative, collaborative commissioning projects and award-winning albums.


Maestra Barbara Day Turner is the founder and music director of the San José Chamber Orchestra. An ardent advocate for new music, she has premiered more than 200 new works with San José Chamber Orchestra alone, as well as leading the first performances of 5 American operas. Named a 2012 Silicon Valley Arts Council "On Stage" Artist Laureate, Maestra Day Turner completed 15 seasons as Music Administrator and Conductor of the Utah Festival Opera and Musical Theatre. She has conducted numerous musical theatre works and operas in the US, and guest conducted in Germany and Mexico. Maestra Turner was head of music staff and resident conductor for Opera San José for 18 years. Maestra serves as a judge for the Irving M. Klein International String Competition, on the advisory board of the Delphi Trio, and on the board of directors for the National Women's Philharmonic Advocacy association. She joined the opera program faculty at the Aquilon Music Festival in Oregon in 2019-2022.


The San José Chamber Orchestra, a professional string-based ensemble of 19+ players, presents a series of 7-9 programs per season. Many performances feature one or more commissions or world premieres by award winning composers with critically acclaimed guest artists as featured soloists. San José Chamber Orchestra is the recipient of five ASCAP/League of American Orchestras Adventurous Programming Awards, has produced seven CDs of American music and commissioned and/or premiered over 200 new works in 30 seasons.

The San José Chamber Orchestra was founded in 1991 out of the desire of local musicians (at the time playing with Opera San José) for an opportunity to play chamber orchestra repertoire and explore music written by living composers. Its formation was sparked by a challenge in the METRO newspaper from the late drummer Sammy Cohen to music director Barbara Day Turner, announcing that an orchestra was forming (unbeknownst to her) and privately saying to stop being lazy and get started. The San José Chamber Music Society graciously sponsored the first concert and a board was formed shortly thereafter.

The San José Chamber Orchestra is funded in part by grants from the City of San José, Office of Cultural Affairs and Silicon Valley Creates in partnership with the County of Santa Clara and the California Arts Council.

Tickets and information:

408 295-4416


Photo Credit: Courtesy of the artists and San José Chamber Orchestra.


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