Blast off winter with the Glacier Symphony’s “Star Wars, Dark Matter and Dvorak” concert in February
Whitefish High School Performance Hall, Saturday, Feb. 11 at 7:30 p.m. and
Flathead High Performance Hall on Sunday, Feb. 12 at 3 p.m.
Glacier Symphony – John Zoltek, Artistic Director and Conductor.
Guest soloist will be Ben Kirby, performing on tuba the premiere of his own composition, Dark Matter – Petite Concertante for Tuba and Orchestra. (See artist details below)
FROM THE MAESTRO: Star Wars, Dark Matter and Dvorak will be an entertaining and informative concert focusing on symphony music as a dramatic narrative art form. The concert features repertoire and popular pieces by 19th century Czech composer Antonin’ Dvorak and the great American film composer John Williams.
Dvorak’s The Noon Day Witch, a symphonic tone poem composed in 1896, is considered one of the composers best. He concentrated on a series of these upon his return to his native Bohemia after living in America after writing his last symphonies. The 15 minute one movement work perfectly, almost cinematically, illustrates a dark domestic folk tale involving a mother and father, an unruly child and of course The Noon Day Witch who makes an appearance half way through the piece with devastating results. The emotional events that are captured by Dvorak as he takes the audience though this thrilling drama is an early example of how symphonic music can indeed extenuate a dramatic tale and story line. This technique of symphonic narrative drama, born from the concert halls and opera stages of the19th century, had major impact on the art of modern film composing.
Our two works by John Williams The Force Awakens Suiteand ET Adventures on Earthare taken from recent popular films and are fine examples of how contemporary composers still draw on musical devices and the esthetic language developed largely by various 19th century composers (in John Williams’ case Wagner and others).
An additional treat on this program will be the world premiere of Dark Matter, a tuba concerto by Missoula based tuba virtuoso and composer, Benedict Kirby. I selected this concerto for performance with the Glacier Symphony because it is very well composed, unusual in structure and esthetically pleasing. It is also an exciting work full of interesting orchestral color, fun melodies and sparkling unexpected rhythms. There is certainly a little bit of tongue and cheek “space” music style in the musical language. Ben Kirby himself will serve as soloist navigating the cosmos of orchestra texture with technical bravura and low brass lyricism – John Zoltek
ABOUT THE GUEST SOLOIST: Benedict Kirby currently teaches tuba and euphonium at the University of Montana School of Music as well as instrumental music at Loyola Sacred Heart High School. He has a rich experience in all facets of music making including performing (tuba), composition, conducting, education and music technology. His performance highlights include work with the Wisconsin Chamber Symphony, Minnesota Orchestra, Colorado Symphony as well as a variety of other regional orchestras.In his youth he was the principle tubist of the 1988 Walt Disney World All-American College Orchestra. He currently performs regularly with the symphonies of Missoula and Billings, MT. His tuba teachers were Ross Tolbert, Arnold Jacobs and John Stevens.
As a composer Kirby has 40 plus original compositions in a variety of mediums including works for concert band (Through the Rings of Saturn & Celtic Dragon Fantasy), a plethora of works from the trumpet barn-burner solo repertoire scored for solo tuba and band, as well as a unique set of duets for tuba and acoustic guitar (published by TE Press). His composition, Dark Matter – Petite Concertante (scored for solo tuba and orchestra, band or piano) was selected among 49 submissions to win the solo category for the composition competition of the 2015 U.S. Army Band “Pershings Own” Tuba/Euphonium Workshop. His teachers of composition and orchestration include Frank Bencriscutto, Paul Fetler and Dominick Argento.
He has advised low brass musicians at all levels of ability – from beginner to graduate student – and he takes a special pride in the relationships he has built with these students. Many of them have filled out the low brass sections of the All-State bands and orchestras of several states. Some have won concerto competitions at colleges where he has taught. Quite a few have gone on to further professional development as music educators and performers in other regions of the US. Kirby has degrees from the University of Minnesota and the University of Wisconsin-Madison. He is a P.A.D.I. certified Open-Water SCUBA diver and resides in Missoula, MT with his amazing wife, Jennifer and incredible sons, Evan and Owen.
Notes about Dark Matter – Petite Concertante
Looking up on a clear night has been a hobby of mine ever since I saw the Apollo-Soyuz space crafts fly over my house on a July summer evening in 1975. That interest coupled with the desire to write music has led me to more than one artistic endeavor dealing with subjects of an astronomical nature. Dark Matter – Petite Concertante for Tuba and Orchestra is a musical meditation on the metaphorical and literal connotations that can be derived from the title words. The music does have three distinct sections which are woven together to form a sort of triple entendre of meaning. They are book-ended by “home” thematic material.
The first of the three sections (post-introduction) is meant to imply an “official” seriousness of tone with a developed and dialoguing theme between the soloist and orchestra. The music pursues this dark avenue while forecasting small hints of lightness and future joyful potential. It does, however, delay such intentions – taking a starker turn in the slower middle section (marked Doloroso or “sorrowful”). This somber context intends to amplify the previous music’s serious tone and go deeper (darker) into it. The mood is eventually relieved as the piece opens up suggesting new possibilities to come. The third section, marked Allegro, explodes and sheds those melancholy qualities to take off and give us a more interstellar perspective. The intent here is to celebrate the phenomenal astronomical research concerning the make-up of the universe – in particular that 70% of the material out there that we can’t see but nonetheless has quite a dramatic effect on how everything else (solar systems, galaxies, black holes, etc.) behave! There is one quasi-literal illusion to throwing a switch on a super collider built into the music at a cathartic moment accented by the percussionists. Though, this composer confesses to never actually having heard one – so I was having a little fun! The music finally finds itself laced with minimalism garnished with coloristic effects and a soaring tuba part as it returns to a transformed version of the opening material – as if to suggest a glossy look to the beauty of an unencumbered night sky. The final flourish of the piece reminds us of the scope (not so large) of this petite concertante.
Tickets for the concert are priced in several seating tiers starting at $15 for adults. Youth through grade 12 are admitted free to this Masterworks concert. Purchase tickets online at www.gscmusic.org. Tickets purchased at the GSC Box Office, 69 N. Main. St. in Kalispell are subject to a $2 handling fee. Call 406-407-7000 for more information.
Support for this concert is provided by Don K Subaru, Firebrand Hotel, Flathead Beacon, Northwest Imaging, Plant Land, Urology Associates and Valley Bank.