BY SANDY STAGGS
Spartanburg Philharmonic Orchestra’s will conclude its second exciting season of Espresso chamber music concerts Friday at the Chapman Cultural Center with five works performed by its brass and woodwind quintets.
The program, which is intended to music accessible to people who may not normally attend classical music concerts, will kick-off with six short character pieces, “Six Bagatelles for Woodwind Quintet” by György Ligeti, composer on three Stanley Kubrick films including “2001: A Space Odyssey” and “The Shining,” according to Peter B. Kay, who serves as SPO’s Composer in Residence, as well as triple duties as Director of Marketing and Operations and Personnel Manager.
Originally written for two sopranos and orchestra, the second selection will be Léo Delibes’ “Flower Duet” from his opera “Lakmé.” Few in the audience may know the aria by its title, Kay said, “but after the first two bars, they will recognize it.”
The program also includes the first big blues hit in American history, “St. Louis Blues” written in 1914 by W.C. Handy, considered the father of blues. Kay said this tune will also be immediately recognizable. “It’s fun straight-up blues,” he said of this modern arrangement by the Canadian Brass quintet.
Kay said he paired this number with a more obscure composition “Quintet no. 1 for Brass Quintet” by Russian composer Victor Ewald, who is the known as father of the modern brass quintet. This piece is a standard in the brass world, Kay said, but not so much in the orchestral repertoire.
“It’s Romantic sounding and modern with some hint of the blues, but written before-all of that came along,” he added.
But the highlight of the evening will be the premiere performance of “In A New Light,” a new work by Kay himself and inspired by the uber-popular public art project “Seeing Spartanburg in a New Light,” and accompanied by commissioned cinematic visuals by award-winning filmmaker and former HUB-BUB Artist-in-Residence Jonathan Ade.
Though this is the world premiere of “In A New Light,” Kay, who has lived in Spartanburg for most of his life and career, said this composition is based on a piece he wrote a few years ago that he has vastly reworked and given a new title.
This work was written with all 10 musicians in mind and most all double on another instrument: the flute is also playing piccolo, clarinet doubles on bass clarinet, bassoon on oboe, and one of the trumpets doubles on the piccolo trumpet, etc.
“There are lot of different colors and timbre represented throughout the piece, such as a contrast with all the brass and just the oboe,” said Kay who played double bass for the orchestra for some nine years before turning to composition in 2006. “And there is clash of pitches that create a shimmering effect and sometimes there’s a lot of harmony, of course, that corresponds.”
“Seeing Spartanburg in a New Light” will close Tuesday, April 18 and this piece, Kay said, is meant to celebrate the ground-breaking exhibit and let patrons know there is still time to see it.
This is not Kay’s first work performed by SPO musicians: the full orchestra did perform his version of “Beowulf” in 2004 as part of the group’s youth concert.
And though Ade will not be attending in person – he is California editing a TV show – the film includes video he shot on a recent visit to our fair city, as well as some amazing drone footage by local outfit Hub City Bees.
Kay said SPO plans to announce its 2017-18 season on Friday as well and subscriptions will be available in the lobby.
The season is still under wraps but Kay did reveal the SPO Classic series includes three concerts conducted by each of the three candidates vying to replace Music Director Sarah Ioannides, who will be leaving Spartanburg at the end of this season. And the fourth show will be a pops-oriented performance devoted to a certain popular American film composer and conducted by a member of the string section.
In addition, Kay said patrons and SPO fans will be able to give their input during this selection process with comment cards available at the performances as well as through the SPO website.
“We want people to be invested in the orchestra,” he said of the organization’s efforts to seek feedback from the public.
“In A New Light” will be conducted by SPO librarian Robert Borden. The musicians on the program include Rhea Jacobus, Andrew Parker, Cecilia Kang, Anneka Zuehlke-King, Frank Watson, Cody Beard, Ken Frick, Andrew Merideth, Mark Britt, and John Holloway.
Kay noted that the Espresso audience should be prepared to have a good time and that a full house is expected. The last concert Percussive Percolator sold out, so make haste and get your tickets ASAP.
The happy-hour reception provided by Marriot of Spartanburg and Hub City Tap House begins at 5:30 p.m. and the one-hour concert begins at 6:30 p.m. leaving plenty of time for patrons to grab dinner after the show.
Tickets are $25. The concert is at the Chapman Cultural Center, 200 E. St. John St. in Spartanburg. Tickets are available HERE.
Also, Enter to WIN a Harley-Davidson Heritage Softail Classic in SPO’s “Harley-Davidson Raffle to Support Education & Outreach Programs.” Tickets are only $55 and only 999 tickets are available. The drawing will occur Monday, April 24 at the “Maestro, Mozart & Motorcycle” farewell gala for Music Director Sarah Ioannides. Winner does not need to be present. For full details and to purchase raffle tickets, visit http://www.spartanburgphilharmonic.org/motorcycle-raffle. Gala tickets are available at http://www.spartanburgphilharmonic.org/gala2017.
And don’t miss your last chance to hear Maestro Sarah Ioannides as Music Director in “SPO: Grand Finale” on Saturday, April 29 at 7 p.m. at Twichell Auditorium. Tickets are available HERE.