UTAH SYMPHONY AND MUSIC DIRECTOR THIERRY FISCHER PERFORM NEW WORKS BY AUGUSTA READ THOMAS, NICO MUHLY, AND ANDREW NORMAN ON DAWN TO DUST, AN ALBUM TO BE RELEASED BY REFERENCE RECORDINGS ON APRIL 8, 2016
The recording celebrates the orchestra’s 75th anniversary
with commissions from three leading American composers
(March 10, 2016)—As part of its 75th-anniversary celebrations, the Utah Symphony releases Dawn to Dust, a new recording featuring live performances of orchestral works commissioned from three leading American composers: Augusta Read Thomas, Nico Muhly, and Andrew Norman. The recording, a hybrid SACD to be issued on Friday, April 8, 2016, is the second in an ongoing series by Music Director Thierry Fischer and the Utah Symphony for Reference Recordings. It follows the release of Gustav Mahler’s Symphony No. 1 “Titan,” recorded live by the Utah Symphony and Mr. Fischer, issued in September 2015. Dawn to Dust will be available from iTunes, Amazon.com, and other music retailers.
The recording exemplifies Thierry Fischer’s ongoing commitment to commissioning music from today’s leading generations of composers both established and new voices. Since his appointment as Music Director in 2009, Mr. Fischer initiated an ambitious program that has to date supported five works. The recording, Dawn to Dust, comprises three of those works: EOS (Goddess of the Dawn), a Ballet for Orchestra by Augusta Read Thomas; Control (Five Landscapes for Orchestra) by Nico Muhly; and Switch, a percussion concerto by Andrew Norman with soloist Colin Currie.
Mr. Fischer said, “This 75th anniversary recording is the perfect representation of our continuing commitment to the commissioning of new works. Collaborating with today’s most eminent and visionary composers, and expanding the repertoire are important to me and members of the Utah Symphony and we feel great pride for the ambitious legacy of living music we are building. It is not enough to simply interpret history, we must also make history.”
The title of Ms. Thomas’s EOS, which the composer describes as a ballet for orchestra, refers to the Greek goddess of the dawn. It takes inspiration from imagery associated with Greek mythology and Greece’s evocative, sun-drenched landscape. The composition in seven sections, as described by Augusta Read Thomas can be considered a “17-minute crescendo,” kaleidoscopic in scope and varied in its course, in which six performers—four percussion, piano and celeste, and harp—provide an animating core that runs through the music. They imbue the score with radiant color, “flickers of sound as in a Seurat painting,” that pass through them and the orchestra as a whole.
Nico Muhly’s Control draws inspiration from a unique physical setting: the spectacular national parks of Southern Utah, collectively known as the Mighty Five—Capitol Reef, Arches, Canyonlands, Bryce Canyon, and Zion—where the Utah Symphony performed a series of open-air concerts during the summer 2014. Mr. Muhly joined the orchestra on the tour and remarked on his “enormous affinity for the intensities of the landscape.” His resulting work is a “sequence of five episodes describing, in some way, an element of Utah’s natural environment, as well as the ways in which humans interact with it.” Previously he had spent time in Utah, where he felt “an enormous affinity for the intensities of the landscape”—a landscape which he observes “we can control,” but which “has a way of reminding us of its permanence.”
In a distinct way, Andrew Norman’s Switch brings focus to process and interaction in music-making though a featured percussionist in this fast-paced, tour-de-force concerto for battery of percussion and orchestra. About Switch, Mr. Norman says “the percussionist’s many instruments act as triggers, turning other players on and off, making them play forward and backward, and causing them to jump to entirely different musical worlds.” The work is, he continues “a game of control. Each percussion instrument (both in front of and behind the orchestra) is a switch that controls other instruments in specific ways, making them play louder or softer, higher or lower, freezing them in place and setting them in motion again.”
The recording release coincides with the Utah Symphony and Music Director Thierry Fischer’s appearance at Carnegie Hall on April 29 for a concert that features the New York premiere of Andrew Norman’s Switch, as well as Haydn’s Symphony No. 96 in D major, “Miracle,” Bartók’s Suite from the Miraculous Mandarin, and selections from the ballet Romeo and Juliet by Prokofiev. Scottish percussionist Colin Currie is again the soloist in Norman’s Switch, reprising his performance in November 2015 at which the piece was recorded. The Carnegie Hall performance by the Utah Symphony and Mr. Fischer celebrates the orchestra’s 75th anniversary season and also marks the anniversary of the Carnegie Hall debut of the Utah Symphony, made 50 years ago, during the tenure of the orchestra’s Music Director Maurice Abravanel.
ABOUT THE COMPOSERS
Nico Muhly is a composer of chamber, orchestral, and sacred music, as well as opera, ballet, and music for collaborators across a variety of fields. He has composed on commission from St. Paul’s Cathedral and Carnegie Hall, and has written choral music for the Tallis Scholars and the Hilliard Ensemble, songs for Anne Sofie von Otter and Iestyn Davies, an encore for violinist Hilary Hahn, and a viola concerto for Nadia Sirota. The Metropolitan Opera recently commissioned him to compose Marnie for its 2019-2020 season, based on Winston Graham’s 1961 novel that was adapted into a movie by Alfred Hitchcock. Muhly has scored ballets for choreographer Benjamin Millepied and films including The Reader and Kill Your Darlings, in addition to arranging music by Antony & the Johnsons, Björk, Grizzly Bear, and the National. His debut CD Speak Volumes (2007) was the first of many collaborations with the artists of Reykjavik’s Bedroom Community label, and with singer/songwriter Thomas Bartlett (Doveman), he is half of the gamelan-inspired song project Peter Pears. He lives in New York City.
Control (Five Landscapes for Orchestra) is dedicated by the composer in grateful tribute to Patricia A. Richards, Utah Symphony/Utah Opera Board Chair 2005-14.
Andrew Norman is a Los Angeles-based composer of orchestral, chamber, and vocal music. A lifelong enthusiast for all things architectural, Mr. Norman writes music that is often inspired by patterns, textures, and shapes he encounters in the built environment around him. He is also increasingly interested in story-telling in music, and specifically in the ways non-linear, narrative–scrambling techniques from cinema, television, and video games might intersect with traditional symphonic forms. His distinctive, often fragmented and highly energetic voice has been cited in The New York Times for its “daring juxtapositions and dazzling colors,” in the Boston Globe for its “staggering imagination,” and in the Los Angeles Times for its “Chaplinesque” wit. Mr. Norman teaches composition at the University of Southern California and his works are published by Schott Music.
Switch is dedicated to the memory of Serge and Natalie Koussevitzky.
GRAMMY® winning composer Augusta Read Thomas’s impressive body of works embodies unbridled passion and fierce poetry. The New Yorker called her “a true virtuoso composer.” Championed by such luminaries as Daniel Barenboim, Mstislav Rostropovich, Pierre Boulez, Christoph Eschenbach, Esa-Pekka Salonen, Lorin Maazel, Seiji Ozawa, and Oliver Knussen, she rose early to the top of her profession. She has taught at the Eastman School of Music, Northwestern University, Tanglewood Music Center, and serves as the 16th University Professor (one of five current University Professors) at The University of Chicago. Former Chairperson of the American Music Center, she has become one of the most recognizable and widely loved figures in American music. Thomas was the longest–serving Mead Composer-in-Residence with the Chicago Symphony and Daniel Barenboim and Pierre Boulez. The residency, from 1997 through 2006, culminated in the premiere of Ms. Thomas’ Astral Canticle—one of two finalists for the 2007 Pulitzer Prize in Music. During her residency with the Chicago Symphony, the orchestra premiered nine commissioned works and helped establish the thriving MusicNOW series. Upcoming commissions include the Boston Symphony Orchestra, the Utah Symphony and Tanglewood. She won the Ernst von Siemens Music Prize, among other awards. EOS is dedicated by the composer with admiration and gratitude to Thierry Fischer and each member of the Utah Symphony, and is in honor of Pierre Boulez, who premiered three of her works and recorded, toured, and supported the Augusta Read Thomas’s music over many years.
ABOUT THE ARTISTS
Thierry Fischer, Music Director of the Utah Symphony Orchestra since 2009, has revitalized the orchestra with creative programming and critically acclaimed performances that have drawn consistently full houses. Highlights of his tenure include complete symphony cycles of Mahler in commemoration of former Utah Symphony Music Director, Maurice Abravanel, complete Beethoven and Nielsen cycles, a multi-season Haydn symphony cycle and a tour of Utah’s five national parks. Mr. Fischer has also initiated a major commissioning program in Utah that has produced the new works by Nico Muhly, Andrew Norman and Augusta Read Thomas featured on this recording, as well as works by Simon Holt and Michael Jarrell. Mr. Fisher has guest conducted orchestras as diverse as the Atlanta, Boston, Cincinnati and Detroit symphonies, the BBC Symphony, Czech Philharmonic, Philharmonia (London), Oslo Philharmonic, Orchestre de la Suisse Romande, Rotterdam Philharmonic, Salzburg Mozarteumorchester, and the Scottish and Swedish Chamber orchestras, among others. His recordings include Frank Martin’s opera Der Sturm with the Netherlands Radio Philharmonic Orchestra and Chorus, works by Honegger and Stravinsky with the BBC National Orchestra of Wales and Beethoven’s piano concertos with the London Philharmonic Orchestra and Louis Schwizgebel. Mr. Fischer began his music career as Principal Flute in Hamburg and at the Zurich Opera. He made his conducting debut in his 30s leading the Chamber Orchestra of Europe. He served as Principal Conductor and Artistic Advisor of the Ulster Orchestra from 2001-06 and Chief Conductor of the Nagoya Philharmonic from 2008-11 (now the orchestra’s Honorary Guest Conductor), and Principal Conductor of the BBC National Orchestra of Wales from 2006-2012.
Hailed as “the world’s finest and most daring percussionist” by Spectator, Colin Currie is a solo and chamber artist at the peak of his powers. Championing new music at the highest level, Currie is the soloist of choice for many of today’s foremost composers and he performs regularly with the leading orchestras and conductors. A dynamic and adventurous soloist, Currie’s unrivalled commitment to commissioning and creating new music was recognized in 2015 by the Royal Philharmonic Society who awarded him the Instrumentalist Award for his achievements in 2014. From his earliest years Currie forged a pioneering path in creating new music for percussion, winning the Royal Philharmonic Society Young Artist Award in 2000 and receiving a Borletti-Buitoni Trust Award in 2005. Currie has premiered works by composers such as Steve Reich, Elliott Carter, Louis Andriessen, HK Gruber, James MacMillan, Anna Clyne, Einojuhani Rautavaara, Jennifer Higdon, Kalevi Aho, Rolf Wallin, Kurt Schwertsik, Simon Holt, Alexander Goehr, Dave Maric, Julia Wolfe and Nico Muhly. Currie has recorded many concerto, recital and chamber works to critical acclaim, including recordings of Rautavaara and Higdon which have received a Gramophone Award and a GRAMMY® Award respectively. Currie is Artist in Residence at London’s Southbank Centre where he was the focus of a major percussion festival Metal Wood Skin in autumn 2014.
The Utah Symphony, celebrating its 75th anniversary in the 2015-16 season, is one of America’s major symphony orchestras and a leading cultural organization in the Intermountain West. It is recognized internationally for its distinctive performances, commitment to music education programs, and recording Founded in 1940, the Utah Symphony became recognized as a leading American ensemble largely through the efforts of Maurice Abravanel, Music Director from 1947 to 1979. During his tenure, the orchestra undertook four international tours, released numerous recordings and developed an extensive music education program. The Utah Symphony has performed in many of the world’s most prestigious concert halls including Carnegie Hall, at the Kennedy Center, Musikverein, Konzerthaus, Philharmonie, Schauspielhaus, Gewandhaus, Royal Festival Hall and Teatro Colón. In addition to numerous regional and domestic tours, including most recently the Mighty 5® tour of Southern Utah’s National Parks, it has embarked on seven international tours. The orchestra has released more than 100 recordings and has been nominated for Grammy Awards for albums with Maurice Abravanel (Honegger’s Le Roi David, Bloch’s Sacred Service and Stravinsky’s Symphony of Psalms) and Michael Tilson-Thomas (Copland’s Old American Songs). A pioneering cycle of Mahler Symphonies conducted by Abravanel was recorded between 1963 and 1974 and included the first commercial stereo recordings of the Seventh and Eighth Symphonies. The recordings also marked the first complete Mahler cycle recorded by an American orchestra.
Reference Recordings, founded in 1976, is based in San Francisco, with multiple Grammy® awards and a catalog that includes numerous American and international orchestras, ensembles and choruses. FRESH! is part of Reference Recordings’ mission to encourage unique and fine artists, and give them a strong platform for promotion and sales nationally and internationally. Reference Recordings are distributed in North America by Naxos USA, and internationally through a network of independent distributors.
For more than 40 years, Soundmirror has been the first choice recording and post-production company for orchestras, choral groups, opera companies, solo artists, and record labels. Soundmirror’s recordings have received over 70 Grammy® nominations and awards as well as special commendations from prestigious publications. The Utah Symphony’s Mahler Symphony No. 1 was recorded and post-produced in 64fs DSS on a Pyramix workstation by producer Dirk Sobatka and engineer John Newton, with mixing and mastering by Mark Donahue, all of Soundmirror in Boston.
UTAH SYMPHONY Reference Recordings
Thierry Fischer, Music Director and Conductor FR-719SACD
Dawn to Dust [69:31]
World Premieres of three works commissioned by the Utah Symphony
Recorded live at Abravanel Hall in Salt Lake City, UT
Augusta Read Thomas (b. 1964)
EOS (Goddess of the Dawn, a Ballet for Orchestra
1. Dawn [4:45]
2. Daybright and Firebright [2:30]
3. Shimmering [1:40]
4. Dreams and Memories [3:38]
5. Spring Rain [3:27]
6. Golden Chariot [1:14]
7. Sunlight [1:02]
Nico Muhly (b. 1981)
Control (Five Landscapes for Orchestra)
8. Landform [3:56]
9. Mountain [4:30]
10. Beehive [4:54]
11. Petroglyph & Tobacco [3:54]
12. Red Dust [5:14]
Andrew Norman (b. 1979)
13. Switch [28:34]
With Colin Currie, percussion