Last month in my Prelude letter to the March subscription concerts, Mozart and More, I previewed one of the world’s “rising star” young violinists, teenage guest artist Caroline Goulding, as our guest artist. ProMusica has proudly identified and presented such “rising stars” for over thirty years.
This month, we are thrilled to present the brilliant American pianist Jeremy Denk as the guest artist for our season-ending subscriptions concerts. I have been interested in engaging Jeremy since he was a “rising star.” It has, however, taken us so long to do so that his meteoric rise in the music world has brought him to the point of nearly being considered a celebrated “mid-career” artist.
In 1998 Jeremy Denk won both the Young Concert Artists International Auditions and received a prestigious Avery Fisher Career Grant. Over the past decade the pianist's career has flourished. The New York Times described his playing as "bracing, effortlessly virtuosic and utterly joyous," and he has garnered comparable critical acclaim for his engagements with leading orchestras and presenters nationwide. He has appeared as soloist with the Philadelphia Orchestra, the St. Louis Symphony, the Houston Symphony, the San Francisco Symphony, the Atlanta Symphony, the Orpheus Chamber Orchestra and many others. Should you wish to read more about Jeremy, check out his full bio on his website. You might also want to read his “blog” – think denk: the glamorous life of a concert pianist.
Jeremy will be performing Beethoven’s glorious Piano Concerto No. 1 with ProMusica, a revered work that he has performed with many of the country’s leading orchestras.
In the realm or “it’s a small world,” please know that Jeremy was a groomsman at the wedding our concertmaster, Katie McLin, and her husband, pianist Andrew Campbell. Katie and Jeremy will perform together at our final Artist Circle recital of the season. Like the weekend subscription concerts, the Artist Circle recitals have become musical and social “events” in Columbus, Ohio not to be missed.
As excited as we are about Jeremy’s appearance we are also delighted to be presenting the world premiere of a new work by Evan Chambers, Hestia’s Fire. Evan is currently a professor of composition at the University of Michigan. This is what he has written about his latest orchestral composition:
Hestia was a Greek goddess, the first born, in fact, who was the goddess of the hearth. She had no altar of her own, and there are very few images of her, but instead was found in every hearth, at the center of every home. Since she led a life of renunciation and service, there are no myths about her, and though both Apollo and Poseidon were in love with her, she declined their attentions, and eschewed the petty infighting of the other gods on Olympus. She was nevertheless a most important figure, as her sacred flame was at the heart of ritual practice, and was continued into Roman times under the name Vesta, whose sacred flame was tended by the Vestal Virigins. It is sometimes said that she willingly gave up her place in the pantheon in order to devote herself to serving human kind.
The piece is also a seasonal piece--born out of contemplation of the late fall and early winter, when especially those of us in northern climates by necessity turn inward (Hestia has also been referred to as "the goddess of inmost things). So the movement title "frozen ground" refers to that time during which we begin to feel that sadness of the vibrant life of the summer dying away, and realize again how dependent we are upon our inner hearth-fires for warmth. The title of the second movement "The Early Dark" is the name of the Irish-style reel that begins the movement, written as a kind of reflection upon the growing darkness of Advent, and the title that follows ("Brigid's Flame") refers to the Irish goddess Brigid, who held a similar position in Celtic mythology to Hestia, and who also had a ritual flame continuously tended by female renunciates; in fact the early Catholic church created a said Brigid, whose flame was also tended by an order of nuns for many years.
The second movement is really about that metaphoric cultivation of our inner fires, which has some parallels in Sufi practice and music, and so the second movement draws as well to some extent on the form of Sufi Qawwali music.
Hestia’s Fire was commissioned by ProMusica New Music Network. You can read about this opportunity to be a part of the creation of musical works of art by clicking here.
In addition to ProMusica’s commitment to new music and to presenting great guest artists for your listening enjoyment, we continue our commitment to education and performing the greatest masterworks ever composed for small orchestra.
To these ends, we open our April subscription programs with Aaron Copland’s Hoedown from Rodeo. On Saturday evening we will perform this American classic “side-by-side” with young string players from our “Musicians-in-the- Schools” partner institutions. Both concerts will feature Richard Wagner’s remarkable Siegfried Idyll.
Copland, Wagner, Hestia’s Fire, and Beethoven’s fire . . . a quintessential ProMusica melding of the old and new. These are, indeed, programs to be shared. Please spread the news, invite friends. Put a little orchestra in your life!