Assembling an anthem, with assistance from Whitman
July 3, 2017
"An Die Musik" premiered in Fredonia
December 4, 2017
Tonight & Tomorrow: premiere of "An Anthem Reassembled"
April 28, 2017
Tonight and tomorrow at 8pm the American University Symphony Orchestra, under the direction of my friend and colleague Matthew Brown, will present the premiere performances of An Anthem Reassembled, alongside performances of Lauridsen, Mendelssohn and one of my favorite works, the first Symphony of Johannes Brahms.
This new, short work for orchestra was composed in January-February of this year (although some of the sketches date back many, many months!) I'll soon have more to say about this piece and the sentiments/experiences from which it grew, but for now, here's a short note that will appear in the concert program this weekend. It's been a great experience working with the students and community members that make up this fine ensemble, and it's an honor for me to foster a collaboration at my (recently) new academic home.
If you're in the DC area, I'd love to see you there! Here's the program note:
"An Anthem Reassembled" approaches the template of a concert overture in
reverse. Rather than beginning with a clear theme, this short work for
orchestra opens amidst fragments of fanfares and lyrical gestures heard in
an abstract, mysterious sonic environment. These disparate segments build
to form massive, tragic sonorities, which ignite a more deliberate,
beat-based middle section focused on an ostinato rhythm. It is only in the
final minutes of the work where the opening fragments recall to assemble
(for the first and only time) into an intrepid, optimistic anthem for brass.
The overall journey of the work moves from dark, divergent uncertainty,
through focus and determination, to a confident and elated unity. Such a
narrative takes inspiration from Walt Whitman's essay of 1871, titled
"Democratic Vistas". Whitman, writing amidst the disillusionment and
scattered sentiments of post-Civil War America, says "Far, far indeed
stretch, in distance, our vistas! How much is still to be disentangled,
freed!". This sobering, hopeful sentiment serves as an epigraph to "An
Anthem Reassembled", here performed for the first time and dedicated to the
American University Symphony Orchestra and its conductor, Matthew Brown.