The Williams College Department of Music presents the Berkshire Symphony in concert on Friday, Nov. 11 at 8 p.m. at the MainStage of the ’62 Center of Theatre and Dance on the Williams College campus. There are also a pre-concert talk with Ronald Feldman who is joined by composer David Kechley in Greylock Hall, next to the theater at 7:15 p.m. These free events are open to the public, concert reservations can be made through the ’62 Center box office.
The orchestra paints a musical portrait with an all-American program titled A Portrait of New England which includes the music of three living composers.
A work by Charles Ives, The Unanswered Question, provides a solid reference point for everything on the program. Born in Danbury in 1874, Ives first posed his transcendental query to the universe in 1906, making himself at once part of the twentieth century and far ahead of his own time. The contemporary composer John Adams makes no bones about his connection to the genius of Ives. Though John Adams’ father did not exactly know Ives, Mr. Adams, born in Worcester in 1947, pays tribute in his composition: My Father Knew Charles Ives.
The tradition of musical composition in this region remains strong, though one could hardly pin any of the composers on the program down to any particular place. Indeed, Williams professor and composer David Kechley has drawn inspiration from many sources since his first premiere by the Seattle Symphony in 1968. Sea of Stones: a Concerto for Guitar and Alto Saxophone, draws on Mr. Kechley’s experiences in Japan and his previous work, In the Dragon’s Garden (1992) commissioned by the Ryoanji Duo, who will also be the soloists for the New England premiere of this dramatic work. Former Williams faculty member Stephen Dankner presents Meditation for Alto Sax and String Orchestra performed in memory of Steven D. Bodner, a musician and teacher at Williams until his sudden and tragic death earlier this year.
A great American composer, Leonard Bernstein too was born and educated in New England. The orchestra plays Bernstein’s exuberant “Symphonic Dances” from West Side Story.
The Berkshire Symphony is conducted by Ronald Feldman and includes nearly 70 members, half of whom are students and half of whom are professional musicians. The ensemble presents four major concerts each season. In addition to performing the great standards of orchestral repertoire a recurring theme each year is the performance of contemporary works. Championing the works of living American composers has been an integral part of the mission of the Berkshire Symphony. [Pre-Concert talks at 7:15pm.]
Charles Ives: Unanswered Question
David Kechley: Sea of Stones
John Adams: My Father Knew Charles Ives
Leonard Bernstein: “Symphonic Dances” from West Side Story
Stephen Dankner: Meditation for Alto Sax and String Orchestra
in memoriam Steven Dennis Bodner