Chicago Philharmonic Opens 22/23 Symphonic Series with William Grant Still’s Afro-American Symphony


Chicago Philharmonic Opens 22/23 Symphonic Series with
William Grant Still’s Afro-American Symphony


CHICAGO -- The Chicago Philharmonic Society proudly opens its 33rd Season with William Grant Still: Afro-American Symphony at 7:30 p.m. Thursday, Oct. 13, at the Harris Theater for Music and Dance. Led by Artistic Director and Principal Conductor Scott Speck, the orchestra performs Still’s Symphony No. 1 (Afro-American Symphony) for the first
time, as well as music by Price, Márquez, Villa-Lobos, and a Chicago premiere by Donna Milanovich Composer in Residence Jonathan Bingham.

The concert centers on the early 20th century resurgence of folk influence in classical music. The headlining piece, Still’s Symphony No. 1 (Afro-American), combines the traditional symphonic form with blues patterns and melodies. Still is one of the most notable and prolific American composers of the last century; he broke barriers as the first African American to conduct a major American symphony orchestra, and the first
to have his work performed by one.

Also following the theme of folk-inspired classical music is Florence Price’s Ethiopia’s Shadow in America, which weaves folk idioms into a symphonic tone poem. There has been a recent resurgence in Price’s oeuvre, spurred in part by a 2009 discovery of Florence Price’s archives in her summer
home in St. Anne, Illinois. Among the findings was Price’s orchestral arrangement of Ethiopia’s Shadow, which was originally written for solo piano. Musicologists believe this may have been Price’s first written orchestral piece.

Donna Milanovich Composer in Residence Jonathan Bingham returns for his second year of the Composer in Residence program with the Chicago Premiere of Monograph. Bingham’s Chicago Philharmonic debut came last year with the world premiere performance of his critically acclaimed
Tautology.

Rounding out the program is Heitor Villa-Lobos’ Bachianas Brasileiras No. 4, Preludio, which combines the composer’s love of his home country’s folk music with the J.S. Bach circle-of-fifths chord progressions; and Arturo
Márquez’s homage to one of Mexico’s beloved dance traditions, Danzón No. 2.

“I’m so proud to be part of an orchestra that makes space for innovative programs like this one,” said Maestro Scott Speck. “We’ve built a reputation for presenting ‘mixed rep’ programs that eschew the traditional concert structure of an overture, concerto, and major symphony. It allows us to explore, to be more creative, and I think the artistic result is thrilling.”

This event is supported in part by Concert Sponsor U.S. Bank. Chicago Philharmonic’s 22/23 Symphonic Series is supported by Chicago DCASE and the Illinois Council for the Arts.

Tickets start at $35 for adults and $10 for students. For
tickets and further information, visit chicagophilharmonic.
org/still/.

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