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Renga: Messiaen's Des canyons aux etoiles...

Sunday, January 24th, 2016 2:00 pm

Conrad Prebys Concert Hall


RENGA presents: Olivier Messiaen's Des Canyons aux Étoiles...
Conductor: Steven Schick
Piano solo: Aleck Karis
Horn solo: Nicolee Kuester
This REED FAMILY CONCERT honors Joel and Ann Reed, who in May 2015 donated $500,000, matched by the University of California's Presidential Match for Endowed Chairs, to create a $1 million endowed music faculty chair, with Schick as the inaugural holder.
Messiaen wrote that his 90-minute tone poem, Des Canyons aux Étoiles... (From the Canyons to the Stars...), is religious (as are virtually all of his works), and, as the title suggests, geological and astronomical. He might have added that it is ornithological as well, since birdsong is a source of much of its material. It's a strange work, closer to his Turangalîla Symphony and Eclairs sur l'au delà than to any conventional form. Its large orchestra features the percussion especially prominently, and it has significant solo parts for piano, horn, xylorimba, and glockenspiel. The work is in three sections with a total of 12 movements, some for the solo instruments alone. The piece was written at the request of Alice Tully for the U.S. Bicentennial, and essentially represents the composer's visceral responses to the starkly beautiful landscape of three national parks in Utah: Cedar Breaks, Bryce Canyon, and Zion. Like the landscapes it describes, the music is alternately spare, jagged, unpredictable, structurally eccentric, monumental, and astonishingly beautiful. Particularly with the composer's detailed program notes in mind, it's a piece that's evocative and constantly engaging. It can be aggressive or contemplative, but the overwhelming impression it leaves is one of awe and ecstasy. (source)
Renga is an ensemble of friends and colleagues from UC San Diego, the San Diego Symphony and beyond. Led by Artistic Directors Kate Hatmaker and Steven Schick, Renga unites the most recent and provocative contemporary music with established classical repertoire in settings ranging from solos and small ensembles to full chamber orchestra.
Read more about Des Canyon aux Étoiles… here.
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