Florida composers write Beethoven-inspired fanfares

In honor of the 250th anniversary of Beethoven’s birth, The Florida Orchestra is partnering with Florida colleges and universities to co-commission five short fanfares inspired by Beethoven. The works also promote music as a living art form and will premiere at the start of select Tampa Bay Times Masterworks concerts conducted by Music Director Michael Francis. The first one debuts on the Beethoven’s Eroica Symphony concert this weekend, Oct. 11-13, in Tampa, St. Petersburg and Clearwater.

This the fourth year in a row that TFO has featured Florida composers, including an annual Student Composer Competition, the winner of which is featured on the final Masterworks concert of the season.

The piece that debuts this weekend is titled Imagined Adventures: AutoBonn by Kevin Wilt. It was co-commissioned by TFO and The Dorothy F. Schmidt College of Arts and Letters at Florida Atlantic University, where Wilt is an associate professor and composer-in-residence. Wilt also composed a celebratory fanfare for TFO’s 50th anniversary in the 2017/18 season.

All of the motives of AutoBonn, which is about the dream of taking off in a fast sports car, are taken from the presto movement of Beethoven’s String Quartet No. 14, Wilt says in his artist’s statement. “The quartet movement itself is a galloping race, which provided ample opportunity for orchestral adrenaline,” he says. “The original opening cello arpeggio is treated as the roaring engine ignition in all of the low strings, bassoons, and timpani.”

Each section shifts into a different gear, revving up until “we reach the last gear and a direct quote of the original string quartet, with the car beginning its last push toward top speed, all before winding down as the joyride comes to an end.”

The other works, each about 5 minutes long, will premiere throughout the season. They are:

Paul Richards: Return the Echo

  • Professor of music and head of the composition and theory area at University of Florida School of Music
  • Premieres Dec. 6-8 on Mozart & Tchaikovsky concert
  • From the composer: A notorious lover of nature, Beethoven once wrote, “woods, trees and rocks return the echo man wishes to hear.” Many, myself included, find that Beethoven’s music itself “returns the echo” we wish to hear. In that spirit, I have written this piece as a celebration, or echo, of a fleeting moment from the final movement of his Ninth Symphony that occurs just before the baritone soloist enters for the first time.

Orlando Jacinto Garcia:  the impending silence

  • Program coordinator, professor of music composition and composer-in-residence at the Florida International University School of Music
  • Premieres Jan. 17-19 on Beethoven’s Piano Concerto No. 3 concert
  • From the composer: The title is a reference to Beethoven’s loss of hearing and my ongoing interest in the exploration of sound and its progression towards silence. In addition, structural and conceptual aspects of Beethoven’s 9th Symphony have an underlying, albeit abstract, influence on the creation of the work.

Jason Bahr: The Light Shines in the Darkness (Lux in tenebris lucet)

  • Assistant professor of music composition and music theory, Florida Gulf Coast University
  • Premieres May 1-3 on Beethoven’s Fifth: Darkness to Light concert.
  • From the composer: Lux in tenebris lucet (The Light Shines in the Darkness) comes from the gospel of John. Beethoven’s Fifth takes us on a long journey of transcendence, from the aggressive opening C minor movement to the joyous close in C major. My work takes a similar journey. It begins broodingly, reflecting on the dark times, but builds to a spiritual awakening and sense of triumph.

Benjamin Whiting, a new visiting instructor of composition at the University of South Florida’s School of Music, will premiere an as-yet-untitled work March 6-8 on the Rachmaninoff’s Piano Concerto No. 3 concert. Look for more details as the concert nears.

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