|Symphony season ends with world premiere of new Wittgraf work|
A world premiere by UND composer Michael Wittgraf, Elgar’s Cello Concerto, and a performance of Holst’s “Planets Suite” with real-time images of the solar system projected above the orchestra, are all part of the mix at the Greater Grand Forks Symphony’s upcoming concert Saturday and Sunday, April 28 and 29.
“Worlds Ahead,” the final concert of the Symphony’s 2007-2008 season, will be presented at the Empire Arts Center at 7:30 p.m. Saturday, April 28, and Sunday, April 29, at 2 p.m. at the Empire Arts Center.
Cellist David Peshlakai is the featured soloist in the Elgar concerto. Peshlakai is principal cellist of the Jackson (Michigan) Symphony Orchestra and has performed frequently with orchestras in the Midwest, both as concertmaster and soloist. In addition, he has performed with the Arlington String Quartet in England and toured with the American Sinfonietta in Germany.
Wittgraf, faculty member in music, composed Landmarks as a commemorative piece for the 10th anniversary of the Grand Forks flood. He writes, “The music is not meant to depict specific events, but rather to evoke the passage of time. All things change as time progresses … familiar musical landmarks make appearances throughout, reminding us of where we were. Some landmarks reappear unchanged, while others are transformed and used as building blocks for new material, creating a sense of continuity and familiarity in the new. In fact, Landmarks is about familiarity alongside the new, familiarity among the new, and familiarity within the new.”
The final work on the program is the well-known Orchestra Suite by Gustav Holst commonly known as “The Planets.” Holst’s work, like Elgar’s, was written during the First World War, but it was also inspired by the composer’s interest in astrology. Holst intended that each movement suggest the traits ascribed to the planet's influence in the horoscope.
Accompanying the performance of the Planets will be a unique video installation showing live action pictures of the planets and solar system “choreographed” to accompany each of the movements. Chattanooga Symphony worked with Videoconcepts, a Tennessee media company, to develop the installation to accompany it performance of the Planets. The original intention was that pictures from NASA (using Hubble spacecraft photography) would enhance the performance, but computer programmers began experimenting with Macromedia Flash Director instead of still photography. This allowed for three-dimensional computer modeling of space, including a virtual solar system arranged with rough distance calculations. The NASA photographs were embedded into the virtual space exploration. Audiences who attended the performance reported the uncanny illusion of piloting a space ship while listening to the music.
The Greater Grand Forks Symphony obtained rights to use the program with assistance from the North Dakota Space Grant Consortium. In addition to concert installation, the Symphony has made arrangements to make copies of an accompanying interactive program available in schools and public places in the area during the two weeks prior to the performance. The programs allows users to “navigate” their way through the solar system and provides information about each of the planets.
Tickets ($5-$18) for the Empire performances may be ordered by calling 777-4090. An additional performance for school and community groups is scheduled for Friday, April 26, at 10 a.m. Reservations for this special performance may be made by calling the Symphony office at 777-3359.
For further information about upcoming performances, contact the Greater Grand Forks Symphony Association at 777-3359 or consult the web site at www.ggfso.org.
-- Jennifer Tarlin, Executive Director, Greater Grand Forks Symphony, firstname.lastname@example.org, 777-3359