Christopher Theofanidis: Visions and Miracles. The composer wrote this work in 1998 as a commission for a string quartet; the string orchestra version we’ll play in our concert is from 2002. He waned to write a work of unbridled joy, having recently composed a number of works of a much darker cast, and felt that the time had come to write something bright and uplifting. The music is never heroic, but the feeling of light and joy, even ecstasy, is never far from the center of its universe. It is in three movements, of a characteristic fast–slow–fast pattern. The style of the harmonies is modern but accessible, and rhythmic elements are familiar to anyone who knows modern classical music.
Christopher Theofanidis (b. 1967, Dallas TX) has had his works performed by many leading orchestras from around the world, including the London Symphony, the Philadelphia Orchestra, the Moscow Soloists, the National, Atlanta, Baltimore, St. Louis, Detroit, and California Symphonies, and many others. He also served as Composer of the Year for the Pittsburgh Symphony during their 2006-2007 Season, for which he wrote a violin concerto for Sarah Chang
Mr. Theofanidis holds degrees from Yale, the Eastman School of Music, and the University of Houston, and has been the recipient of the International Masterprize (hosted at the Barbican Centre in London), the Rome Prize, a Guggenheim Fellowship, six ASCAP Gould Prizes, a Fulbright Fellowship to France, a Tanglewood Fellowship, and the American Academy of Arts and Letters’ Charles Ives Fellowship. In 2007 he was nominated for a Grammy for best composition for his chorus and orchestra work, The Here and Now, based on the works of the 13th Century Persian poet Rumi. His orchestral concert work, Rainbow Body, has been one of the most performed new orchestral works of the last ten years, having been performed by over 100 orchestras internationally.
Mr. Theofanidis’ has recently written a ballet for the American Ballet Theatre, a work for the Orpheus Chamber Orchestra as part of their ‘New Brandenburg’ series, and he currently has two opera commissions for the San Francisco and Houston Grand Opera companies. He has a long-standing relationship with the Atlanta Symphony, and has just had his first symphony premiered and recorded with that orchestra. He has served as a delegate to the US-Japan Foundation’s Leadership Program and is a former faculty member of the Peabody Conservatory and the Juilliard School. He currently teaches at Yale University.
What you’ll hear at the concert, notes by the composer:
Visions and Miracles has three movements and lasts about 16 minutes, played by the entire orchestra without a soloist. The title for each movement tells you a lot about the music that you will hear.
In the first movement, All joy wills eternity, you will hear the bright sound and happy, chattering music with lots of rhythmic activity. It’s bright even when it slows down!
The second movement, Peace Love Light YOUMEONE (yes, written like that), is slow and you’ll hear that throughout the movement the music keeps moving in an upward direction, as though reaching for something, ending at the very top of the violins.
The final movement, I add brilliance to the Sun, goes back to the mood of the first movement, but even brighter, and you’ll notice a great deal of sliding between notes, giving the music an exotic feeling.