Symphonic Series Season Opening, October 10th
October's Opening Symphonic Concert will be a special one for me as it represents some important relationships I have forged in the musical world. In soloist Zuill Bailey, I am inviting a good friend to return to the stage of the Warner Theatre to perform a work that was written just for him. How many soloists get the chance to perform a concerto that was composed with their own specific technique, personality, stage presence, and musicianship in mind?
If you remember, besides his dashing good looks and incredible technical capabilities, Zuill is also a great presence on the stage. He somehow embodies the music beyond playing the notes on the page. Perhaps it is in some way attributed to his acting experience, but I think it is even more related to the fact that Zuill breathes music - he can't help but invest his entire being in to a piece, particularly if it happened to be composed just for him! In this new work, which the Erie Philharmonic has co-commissioned for Zuill, he will get to take-on the literary and real-life personae that Ernest Hemingway created in his books and for himself in his 'real' life.
As for the composer, Michael Daugherty is an artist with whom I have had the pleasure of collaborating now for a number of years. My favorite memories of Michael came in the opportunities I had to talk with him over lunches in Pittsburgh when he was Composer of the Year of the Pittsburgh Symphony Orchestra. Rather than the nondescript hotel restaurant, Michael wanted to seek-out what was quintessentially Pittsburgh - so we ate at The Original Oyster House!
I had the great pleasure of performing his fun overture 'Route 66' for the first ever National Performing Arts Convention in Pittsburgh. Michael's music is inextricably linked to American popular culture. That's part of the reason I like it so much - he doesn't apologize for his background - he makes use of it in the most interesting ways. I just recently conducted a performance of his Piano Concerto titled 'Le Tombeau de Liberace' with pianist Andrew Russo and the Rochester Philharmonic and City Ballet. It was a beautiful hommage to Liberace, and while it certainly toed the line between serious and decadent (just like Liberace did!) it never strayed into kitch. It was a thrill to be a part of that project, and I'm looking forward to even more happy meetings with Michael Daugherty over the years, particularly in this new concerto titled 'Tales of Hemingway.'
~ Daniel Meyer