Friday, June 23, 2023 • 7:30 p.m.
Concert # 1: JAC Redford – WORLD PREMIERE
Friday, June 23 7:30 pm
Conductor: Maestro Gregory Buchalter, The Metropolitan Opera
Varna International Chorus & Orchestra
The 2023 Muzika! Festival will feature the world premiere of two of composer J.A.C. Redford’s most recent concert works, Symphony #2: A Plague Journal (2020) and Muzika! Fanfare (2022). The concerts will also feature Redford’s Homing (2017), a four-movement cantata for mixed chorus and orchestra with texts by the composer.
The largest of these works, Symphony #2, was written as the composer and his wife were sheltering in place in response to the COVID-19 pandemic. Consequently, he titled his symphony A Plague Journal. However, the music is not specifically programmatic. It is rather a diary of the musical thoughts that occurred to the composer in the midst of the pestilence, not a description of it. Nevertheless, Redford says that he was “aware while composing that there was a good deal of metaphoric resonance between the music and the circumstances.” The music begins with alarm, gives voice to grief and ends with hope. The composer has written that his hope is that the symphony will provide an opportunity for catharsis and that “audiences will find both challenge and consolation in it.”
Redford has long been interested in what he calls “crossing over” literature. Unpacking this, he says, “By that I mean prose or poetry that imagines the experience of transition from this life to the next, or that renders more porous the borders between the material world and the world of spirit.” He conceived his Homing text as responsive poetry to several literary passages he loves “as if I were conversing over dinner with the authors whose contributions to the discussion are embodied in their works...Art can be both inspiring and generative, allowing us to communicate across and beyond ordinary boundaries of time and space.” In addition to their “crossing over” qualities, these texts speak of what C. S. Lewis called our “inconsolable secret,” that profound human longing for a place where we belong, our true home, that J. R. R. Tolkien describes as a “far green country under a swift sunrise” in what Thomas Howard calls the “Springtime of which all spring times speak.”
Muzika! Fanfare has been newly composed especially for the 2023 Muzika! Festival and is dedicated to its directors and founders, Kalin & Sharon Tchonev. Its purposes are to underscore a sense of occasion and create an atmosphere of delight.
J.A.C. Redford writes: “I seek to write music that appeals to the heart and mind, body and spirit. Homing, Symphony #2 and Muzika! Fanfare are incarnations of this aspiration. I’m thrilled to be working with VIMA to bring this music to life for their audiences.”