The Utah Symphony, conducted by Music Director Thierry Fischer, today released the world premiere of a new composition by American composer Augusta Read Thomas entitled “Fanfare of Hope and Solidarity.” The new work was premiered through the Utah Symphony’s YouTube channel at https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=45gANx1oujY.
“I believe music feeds our souls. Unbreakable is the power of art to build community. Humanity has and will always work together to further music’s flexible, diverse capacity and innate power,” said Ms. Thomas. “The magnificence and energy of massed musical resources, such as an orchestra, are humbling, inspiring, and exemplify hope, solidarity and teamwork.”
The collaboration occurred with incredible speed and momentum, spurred by a call Maestro Fischer made to Ms. Thomas in mid-April to invite her to create a new, four-minute fanfare that could be performed by the Utah Symphony, with the stipulation that each musician would be performing alone from their homes. “Fanfare of Hope and Solidarity” was composed in late April and early May 2020 and it was a mere two weeks from that phone call until the time that Ms. Thomas delivered a full orchestral score and set of orchestra parts. Utah Symphony musicians recorded the music in May 2020.
“The world has momentarily stopped. Our desire for creativity is multiplied,” said Maestro Fischer, whose active support of contemporary composers has been one of the calling cards of his decade-long tenure as music director. “New music is a call to look, listen, and guess what is rarely said. New music reveals the gods and demons hiding in the depths of our souls, and then transforms them into a ‘transfiguring beauty’.“
The composition, which features the brass section of the Utah Symphony, is majestic, optimistic, blazing, and passionate, yet, in the center of the piece, a robust expressive and eloquent lyrical passage unfolds a range of emotions. Due to the nature of how the piece was premiered and recorded with musicians in their own homes, Ms. Thomas employed creative tactics to work around certain inherent challenges. For example, she was able to write for a very few, small percussion instruments which happened to be stored in the homes of the percussionists. The composition ends as if reaching skyward – affirming and hopeful – as bells’ resonance hangs in the air like sunlight ripples.
A video to accompany the music was created by Andrea Peterson. Utah Symphony musicians recorded the music in their homes, and audio engineering was completed by Stoker White and Funk Studios. “Fanfare of Hope and Solidarity” is published by Nimbus Music Publishing. Ms. Thomas created a visual map to the piece located here: http://www.augustareadthomas.com/composition/images/FANFARE_AND_SOLIDARITY_MAP.jpg
“How fortunate to have been able to collaborate on the world premiere of a new piece of hope with the dear talented, imaginative, poetic and understanding composer Augusta Read Thomas,” said Maestro Fischer. “She has immediately responded to our offer with the same urgency for new ideas and innovation which are driving the Utah Symphony during this unprecedented times.”
Since his appointment as Music Director in 2009, Maestro Fischer has expressed an ongoing commitment to commissioning new music for orchestra from today’s leading generations of composers both established and new voices. During his tenure, the orchestra has commissioned and premiered works by Simon Holt, Michael Jarrell, and Tristan Murail, among other composers. In February 2015, Ms. Thomas wrote a Utah Symphony-commissioned piece entitled “EOS (Goddess of the Dawn), A Ballet for Orchestra,” which she said, “exhibits a kaleidoscopic variety of rhythmic syntaxes, radiant colors, and resonant harmonic fields.” The orchestra later released a live recording of the world premiere on “Dawn to Dust” along with works by two other contemporary American composers: “Control (Five Landscapes for Orchestra)” by Nico Muhly, and “Switch,” a percussion concerto by Andrew Norman with soloist Colin Currie. During the 2020-21 season, Maestro Fischer and the Utah Symphony have commissioned composer Arlene Sierra’s “Bird Symphony,” which is scheduled to be premiered at its April 23 & 24, 2021 performances at Abravanel Hall.
About Augusta Read Thomas
The music of Augusta Read Thomas (b. 1964 in New York) is nuanced, majestic, elegant, capricious, lyrical, and colorful — “it is boldly considered music that celebrates the sound of the instruments and reaffirms the vitality of orchestral music.” (Philadelphia Inquirer)
A composer featured on a Grammy winning CD by Chanticleer, her impressive body of works embodies unbridled passion and fierce poetry. The New Yorker magazine called her “a true virtuoso composer.” Championed by such luminaries as Barenboim, Rostropovich, Boulez, Eschenbach, Salonen, Maazel, Ozawa, and Knussen, she rose early to the top of her profession. An influential teacher at Eastman, Northwestern, Tanglewood, and Aspen Music Festival, she is only the 16th person to be designated University Professor at the University of Chicago (one of only nine currently holding the title).
Thomas was the longest-serving Mead Composer-in-Residence with the Chicago Symphony, for Daniel Barenboim and Pierre Boulez, from 1997 through 2006. This residency culminated in the premiere of Astral Canticle, one of two finalists for the 2007 Pulitzer Prize in Music. During her residency, Thomas not only premiered nine commissioned orchestral works, but was also central in establishing the thriving MusicNOW series, through which she commissioned and programmed the work of many living composers. For the 2017-2018 season, Thomas is the Composer-in-Residence with the Eugene Symphony Orchestra. Ms. Thomas was named the 2016 Chicagoan of the Year.
Recent and upcoming commissions include those from the Santa Fe Opera in collaboration with the San Francisco Opera and other opera companies, PEAK Performances at Montclair State University and the Martha Graham Dance Company, The Cathedral Choral Society of Washington D.C., The Indianapolis Symphony, Tanglewood, The Kaleidoscope Chamber Orchestra, Des Moines Symphony, Boston Symphony, the Utah Symphony, Wigmore Hall in London, JACK quartet, Third Coast Percussion, Spektral Quartet, Chicago Philharmonic, Eugene Symphony, the Danish Chamber Players, Notre Dame University, Janet Sung, and the Fromm Foundation.
The New York Times article of March 6, 2015 states that Thomas had the distinction of having her work performed more frequently in 2013-2014 than any other living ASCAP composer, according to statistics from the performing rights organization. Former Chairperson of the American Music Center, she serves on many boards, is a generous citizen in the profession at large, and, according to the American Academy of Arts and Letters, “has become one of the most recognizable and widely loved figures in American Music.”
Ms. Thomas studied composition with Oliver Knussen at Tanglewood (1986, 1987, 1989); Jacob Druckman at Yale University (1988); Alan Stout and Bill Karlins at Northwestern University (1983-1987); and at the Royal Academy of Music in London (1989). She was a Junior Fellow in the Society of Fellows at Harvard University (1991-94), and a Bunting Fellow at Radcliffe College (1990-91). Ms. Thomas is Vice President for Music, The American Academy of Arts and Letters; a member of the Boards of Directors of The Aaron Copland Fund for Music; The Koussevitzky Foundation; the Alice M. Ditson Fund, Columbia University; and she is a Member of the Conseil Musical de la Foundation Prince Pierre de Monaco. She was elected Chair of the Board of the American Music Center, a volunteer position that ran from 2005 to 2008. She is on the Eastman School of Music’s National Council. For more information, visit augustareadthomas.com
About the Utah Symphony
Founded in 1940, the Utah Symphony performs more than 175 concerts each season and offers all Utahns easy access to world class live musical performances of the world’s greatest music in the state’s top venues. Since being named the orchestra’s seventh music director in 2009, Thierry Fischer has attracted leading musicians and top soloists, refreshed programming, drawn increased audiences, and galvanized community support. In addition to numerous regional and domestic tours, including the Mighty 5® Tour of Utah’s National Parks, the Utah Symphony has embarked on seven international tours and performed at Carnegie Hall in Spring 2016 coinciding with the orchestra’s 75th anniversary celebrations. The Utah Symphony has released more than 100 recordings, including Mahler Symphony No. 1 in Fall 2017, and will be releasing the first of three CDs of all Saint-Saëns works in December 2018. Utah Symphony | Utah Opera, the orchestra’s parent organization, reaches 450,000 residents in Utah and the Intermountain region, with educational outreach programs serving around 137,000 students annually. In addition to performances in its home in Salt Lake City, Abravanel Hall, and concerts throughout the state of Utah, the Utah Symphony participates in Utah Opera’s four annual productions at the Janet Quinney Lawson Capitol Theatre and presents the six-week Deer Valley® Music Festival each summer in Park City, Utah. With its many subscription, education, and outreach concerts and tours, the Utah Symphony is one of the most engaged orchestras in the nation. For more information, visit utahsymphony.org.