Illinois State University Symphonic Winds welcomes composer Donald Grantham, April 24
The Illinois State University College of Fine Arts and School of Music invite all to the final Symphonic Winds concert of the 2018–2019 season at 8 p.m. Wednesday, April 24, in the Center for the Performing Arts Concert Hall. Tickets are $10 for general admission and $6 for students (with student ID) and seniors.
The program will include Baron Piquant on Pointe (2011) and Honey in the Rock (2008), both written by composer Donald Grantham, who will visit campus this week. The program will also include Ron Nelson’s Courtly Airs and Dances (1995) and Ian Dicke’s Song of the Telegraph (2010)
Grantham is the recipient of numerous awards and prizes in composition, including the Prix Lili Boulanger, the Nissim/ASCAP Orchestral Composition Prize, first prize in the Concordia Chamber Symphony’s Awards to American Composers, a Guggenheim Fellowship, three grants from the National Endowment for the Arts, three first prizes in the NBA/William Revelli Competition, two first prizes in the ABA/Ostwald Competition, and first prize in the National Opera Association’s Biennial Composition Competition.
Baron Piquant on Pointe is the fourth in a series of dance pieces based on characters drawn from voodoo lore; the previous three are Baron Cimetiere’s Mambo, Baron Samedi’s Sarabande (and Soft Shoe), and Baron La Croix’s Shuffle. The four Barons (or one; some voodoo practitioners maintain that the different names all refer to the same person) are all members of the family Ghede (pronounced Gay-day)—the loas (spirits) in charge of the intersection between the living and the dead. Despite this grim association, the Barons have a lighter side. All four are notorious tricksters with a marked fondness for brandy and tobacco. All dress alike—in black tailcoats and tall black hats, dark glasses with one lens missing, carry canes, and smoke cigars. The music depicts both their dark and light sides. Textures are primarily transparent and ethereal, but the atmosphere of all four is a bit sinister, mordant, and menacing.
Alabama has a rich, varied, and wide-ranging musical tradition that is celebrated in Byron Arnold’s An Alabama Songbook (University of Alabama Press), edited and with an introduction by Robert W. Halli Jr. From this excellent collection, Grantham selected seven highly contrasting and representative songs and presented them in the movements of An Alabama Songbook. The fourth movement, Honey in the Rock, is excerpted from this piece, and is based on that famous moving and lyrical spiritual.
Courtly Airs and Dances is a suite of Renaissance dances, which were characteristic to five European countries during the 1500’s. The festival opens with a fanfare-like Intrada followed by the Basse Danse (France), Pavane (England), Saltarello (Italy), Sarabande (Spain), and Allemande (Germany). Three of the dances, Basse Dance, Pavane, and Allemande, are meant to emulate the music of Claude Gervaise by drawing on the style of his music as well as the characteristics of other compositions from that period.
Composer Ian Dicke is inspired by social-political culture and interactive technology. Active in a diverse array of genres and multimedia, Dicke’s music exhibits a clarity of expression while integrating acoustic ensembles with cutting-edge audio processing techniques. Praised for his “refreshingly well-structured” (Feast of Music) and “uncommonly memorable” (Sequenza 21) catalog of works, Dicke serves as an associate professor of composition at the University of California, Riverside. Dicke’s music has been commissioned and performed by ensembles and festivals around the world, including the New World Symphony, Alarm Will Sound, the Cabrillo Festival Orchestra, ISCM World New Music Days, and the Atlantic Coast Center Band Director’s Association.
When Samuel Finley Breese Morse (1791–1872) invented the electromagnetic telegraph system in the 1830s, he could not have anticipated how its technological advances might be reinterpreted artistically in the next century. Another inventive spirit, Charles Ephraim Burchfield (1893–1967), drew inspiration from both the system’s physical appearance and the sounds emanating from miles of telegraph wires strung on wooden poles along country roads. A masterwork of synesthesia, Song of the Telegraph (1917–52) personifies Burchfield’s highly receptive mind that could translate auditory stimuli into incredible visual representations.
Song of the Telegraph (2010) is in three continuous movements, each addressing a different aspect of Burchfield’s painting. The first movement, Across the Wires, features a series of undulating textures pitted against an energetic tapping motive, not unlike the visual rhythm of Burchfield’s humming telegraph wires. Song of the Clouds introduces long, legato phrases that weave together into a series of passing clouds, each gathering greater intensity until reaching a stormy climax. A piccolo solo introduces the final movement, Bluebird’s Halo. Although a somewhat hidden feature of the painting, the diminutive bluebird perched on the fence encompassed by a golden halo strikes out against the surrounding darkness. The orchestration brightens, as a simple tune becomes the basis for revisiting the first movement’s ‘telegraph’ motive.
Conducted by Anthony C. Marinello III, the Symphonic Winds is composed of some of the most outstanding wind, brass, and percussion players from across campus. They perform highest quality wind band literature, presented two to three concerts each semester, and enjoy collaborations with internationally renowned guest artists and composers.
For tickets or additional information, contact the College of Fine Arts Box Office, located in the Illinois State University Center for the Performing Arts, open 11 a.m. to 5 p.m. Monday through Friday, at (309) 438-2535, or purchase tickets online at Ticketmaster.com. Performance parking is available for free in the School Street Parking Deck in spots 250 and above, 400 West Beaufort Street, Normal.