Wednesday, July 23, 2014

Happy birthday!

Sun Valley Summer Symphony turns a perfectly ripened 30

Express Staff Writer

In honor of its 30th anniversary, the symphony commissioned a work from Mason Bates, who is an innovative up-and-coming contemporary composer ( The world premiere of “Devil’s Radio” is on Aug. 16..
Courtesy photo

    Turning 30 is one of those signature birthdays.
    For the late comedian George Carlin, 30 was the “Oooohh, what happened there?” year.
    “Makes you sound like bad milk,” he said.” He TURNED. We had to throw him out. There’s no fun now—you’re just a sour-dumpling.”
    For the Sun Valley Summer Symphony, turning 30 is more like Carlin’s romantic version of reaching 21.
    “And then the greatest day of your life—you become 21. Even the words sound like a ceremony.”
    The symphony is going to celebrate like its forever 21 as it begins its countdown to a dynamic summer season.
    Today, the Sun Valley Summer Symphony has passed swiftly through its adolescence to become a mature orchestral force, attracting the most sought-after soloists of our time.
    With its free year-round music education programs complementing free-admission concerts, the Sun Valley Summer Symphony has claimed a place of world-class status in the North American classical music scene.
    But what really sets it apart is the audience’s affectionate rapport with the musicians, nurtured by Music Director Alasdair Neale, and felt by every artist who performs with the symphony.
    This season, the symphony promises an engaging time with eclectic programming, dynamic guest artists, and, at its core, the all-star Sun Valley Summer Symphony orchestra.
    Programming this year—from a Pixar In Concert (Aug. 15) to the jazz-infused sounds of the Cuban group Tiempo Liebre (Aug. 10), hot off another Grammy award nomination—reflect the celebratory attitude.
    There will be a special debut of the Jean-Yves Thibaudet piano (Aug. 6), a Steinway concert grand piano recently acquired by the Sun Valley Summer Symphony, hand-picked by Thibaudet (one of the world’s finest concert pianists and a friend of the symphony) in person at the Steinway factory in Germany last December.
    In honor of its 30th, the symphony commissioned a work from Mason Bates, an innovative up-and-coming contemporary composer. Recently awarded the Heinz Medal in the Humanities, Bates writes music that fuses innovative orchestral writing, imaginative narrative forms, the harmonies of jazz and the rhythms of techno. Frequently performed by orchestras large and small, Bates’ symphonic music has been the first to receive widespread acceptance for its expanded palette of electronic sounds.
    The world premiere of Bates’ “Devil’s Radio” is on Aug. 16. If the title of his new piece rings a musical bell, you might be remembering George Harrison’s similarly titled song from his 1987 album “Cloud Nine.” Harrison’s rock tune was inspired by a church billboard that he would see on his way to dropping his son off at school, which read, “Gossip: The Devil’s Radio ... Don’t Be A Broadcaster.”
    The same basic quote was Bates’ starting point as well, taking his musical creation in a different direction, as he writes in program notes: “‘Rumor is the Devil’s radio,’ goes an evocative Southern phrase, and ever since hearing it, I’ve fantasized about a fanfare with equal parts darkness and groove. What began as a brief piano étude quickly swelled way beyond its bounds, and the opportunity to write for a massive orchestra in Sun Valley seemed the perfect chance to give the Devil his due.”
    Sometimes, “the music is coldly propulsive, as at the opening, which uses a kind of sparkling ‘musical lure’ in the upper woodwinds. But this is soon undercut by a bluesy bass line and energetic percussion, ultimately building into a soaring melody that’s best described as vainglorious.”
    Indeed, “the work has ample brightness to counter its dark corners, and in this way it can be heard as a fanfare our villain might write for himself, complete with grandiose flourishes and an infectious swing section. But this lightness quickly evaporates in the work’s final minutes, when thunderous hits in the low brass suggest a Goliath-sized figure throwing his weight around. He bows out with a wink and nod, ever the gentleman.”
    The symphony will also perform Bates’ “Mothership,” which brings together sounds of the concert hall and the dance club.
    Whether you choose to hear the concerts inside the Sun Valley Pavilion or to picnic on the expansive lawn in view of the big screen, Sun Valley Summer Symphony concerts are admission-free for everyone. Pavilion seats fill up quickly. Shows start promptly at 6:30 p.m. For those who sit on the lawn, picnics are allowed, as are low-back chairs and blankets. However, organizers ask that guests leave their dogs at home.
    For more information, visit

Breakout performances

What: 2014 In Focus Series: Made in America, Part 1.
When: Monday, July 28, Tuesday, July 29, Thursday, July 31, and
Friday, Aug. 1
Time: 6-7:30 p.m.
Where: Sun Valley Pavilion.
Details: Join Music Director Alasdair Neale and Assistant Conductor Ankush Kumar Bahl for an intimate, informal, four-concert series that is a survey of American classical music. Classical composition has roots in sacred music dating back to the mid-17th century. The American folk song tradition took hold in early-20th-century American compositions, most notably in the music of Charles Ives and Aaron Copland, which is when a clear “American sound” started to evolve.

Who: Soprano Renée Fleming, National Medal of Arts winner, whose versatility, authenticity and approachability have inspired her unofficial title, “the people’s diva.” A four-time Grammy winner, Fleming won the 2013 Best Classical Vocal Solo Award for “Poèmes,” and in February she became the first classical artist ever to perform the “Star-Spangled Banner” at the Super Bowl, a broadcast seen by more than 100 million people in the United States.
When: Sunday, Aug. 3.
Time: 6:30 p.m.
Where: Sun Valley Pavilion.
Details: This is the Sun Valley Summer Symphony’s 30th Anniversary Gala. Only lawn tickets are still available. A special $250 ticket includes a pre-gala cocktail party on the Sun Valley Lodge Terrace.
More information: 622-5607.

All Summer Symphony performances are free, except for the Gala, and seating is available both in the Pavilion and on the lawn on a first-come, first served basis.

Monday, July 28
Summer Symphony In Focus Series - Made in America: “Alive and Kicking”. Featuring cellist Amos Yang. Performance of Bates’ Stereo is King for Three Percussion and  Electronica, Higdon’s Southern Harmony for String Quartet, Puts’ Simaku  for Clarinet, Violin, Cello and Piano, Kernis’ Air for Cello and Chamber  Orchestra and Adams’ Halleluja Junction for Two Pianos. There will be a brief explanation about each piece to be performed, bringing you inside the music. Sun Valley Pavilion, Sun Valley.
6 p.m.-7:30 p.m.
Tuesday, July 29
Summer Symphony In Focus Series - Made in America: “Time for Three: Lift Off”. Time for Three trio with special guest vocalist Joshua Radin.As classically trained musicians performing Bach and Brahms to their arrangements of Katy Perry, Kanye West and Justin Timberlake, Time for Three has a melting pot style that exemplifies how difficult it is to classify American classical music. Sun Valley Pavilion, Sun Valley. 6 p.m.-7:30 p.m.
Thursday, July 31
Summer Symphony In Focus Series - Made in America: “Minimally Speaking”. Featuring composer Joe Tompkins and pianist Peter Henderson.Journey into minimalism as represented through American classical music. As a special treat, you will be the first to hear the wiorld premier of Joe Tompkins’  piece “4 Mbiras”.Performance of Reich’s Music for Pieces of Wood, Glass’ Music from The Hours, Tompkins’ 4 Mbiras, Adams’ Excerpts from Shaker Loops for String Orchestra, and Reich’s Sextet. Sun Valley Pavilion, Sun Valley. 6 p.m.-7:30 p.m.
Friday, August 1
Summer Symphony In Focus Series - Made in America: “The Pioneers”. Featuring soprano Sydney Mancasola.Relax into the clear “American sound” that emerged in American classical music in the early 20th century Performance of Ives’ Excerpts from Three Places in New England, Barber’s Knoxville: Summer of 1915, Carter’s Elegy for Strings and Copeland’s Suite from Appalachian Spring, original version for 13 instruments. Sun Valley Pavilion, Sun Valley. 6 p.m.
Sunday, August 3
Sun Valley Summer Symphony 30th Anniversary Gala: A once in a life time chance to see a performance by 4 time Grammy winnder Soprano Renee Fleming. Proceeds from the Gala support the Sun Valley Summer Symphony’s free classical music concerts and year-round education programs.Additional events included in $1,000, $500 and $250 tickets. Limited lawn seating available. Sun Valley Pavilion, Sun Valley. 6:30 p.m. $1,000, $500, $250, $100, $75. Web:
Monday, August 4
Sun Valley Summer Symphony: Opening night for the 2014 season. This concert is dedicated to Edgar M. Bronfman. Featuring violinist Jeremy Constant. Performance of Massenet’s Meditation from Thais and Tchaikovsky’s Symphony No. 4 in F Minor, Opus 36.  Sun Valley Pavilion, Sun Valley. 6:30 p.m.
Wednesday, August 6
Sun Valley Summer Symphony: Featuring pianist Jean-Yves Thibaudet and the debut of the Jean-Yves Thibaudet Piano. Performance of Ravel’s Rapsodie espagnol and Saint-Saens Concerto No. 5 in F Major for Piano, Opus 103, “The Egyptian”. Sun Valley Pavilion, Sun Valley. 6:30 p.m.
Thursday, August 7
Sun Valley Summer Symphony: Performance of Brahms’ Academic Festival Overture and Symphony No. 2 in D Major, Opus 73. Sun Valley Pavilion, Sun Valley. 6:30 p.m.
Friday, August 8
Symphony Summer Music Workshops Concerts: Students who have participated in the workshops perform in two separate concerts at 3:00 PM and 6:30 PM. Sun Valley Pavilion, Sun Valley. 3 p.m. Free.
Saturday, August 9
Summer Symphony Family Concert: With narrator John Glenn. Performance of Stravinsky’s Infernal Dance from The Firebirt, Prokofiev’s Waltz and Midnight Music from Cinderella, Opus 107 and  Smith’s Mr. Smith’s Composition. The charming pieces for the Family Concert are inspired by tales both old and new.  Prokofiev draws on the nearly universal Cinderella story, while Stravinsky depicts the magical Firebird of Slavic folk legend.  In Gregory Smith’s amusing finale, it’s the compositional conundrums of the piece itself that provide the dramatic narrative.  Sun Valley Pavilion, Sun Valley. 2 p.m.
Sunday, August 10
Sun Valley Summer Symphony Pops Night: Cuban music group Tiempo Libre and the symphony celebrate Cuba’s musical heritage with this joyous dance-inducing symphonic concert featuring Cuban pianist Alfredo Rodríguez. Get ready for an entirely new take on conga, son, and cha-cha-cha! Sun Valley Pavillion, Sun Valley. 6:30 p.m.
Tuesday, August 12
Sun Valley Summer Symphony: Featuring cellist Joshua Roman. Performance of Shostakovich’s Concerto No. 1 in E-flat Major for Cello, Opus 107, and R. Strauss’ Till Eulenspiegel’s Merry Pranks, Opus 28. Sun Valley Pavilion, Sun Valley. 6:30 p.m.
Wednesday, August 13
Summer Symphony Musicians’ Choice Chamber Music: Performance of Onslow’s String Quintet No. 32 in D Minor, Opus 78, Mozart’s Flute Quartet No. 1 in D Major, K. 285, and Thuille’s Sextet in B-flat Major for Piano and Wind Quintet, Opus 6. Wood River High Performing Arts Theater, Community Campus, Hailey. 6:30 p.m.
Friday, August 15
Sun Valley Summer Symphony Pixar in Concert: Symphony will perform celebrated music live to well-loved video clips from the Pixar classics Finding Nemo, Ratatouille, the Toy Story and Cars films, The Incredibles and Up. Sun Valley Pavilion, Sun Valley. 6 p.m.
Saturday, August 16
Sun Valley Summer Symphony: Featuring composer Mason Bates and violinist Joshua Bell. World premier of Bates’ Devil’s Radio, commissioned by the SV Summer Symphony. Also performance of Brunch’s Concerto No. 1 in G Minor for Violin, Opus 26 and Bates’ Mothership. 6 p.m.
Sunday, August 17
Sun Valley Summer Symphony Chamber Music: Edgar M. Bronfman String Quartet performs Beethoven’s String Quartet No. 14 in C-sharp Minor, Opus 131. Presbyterian Church of the Big Wood, 100 Saddle Rd., Ketchum. 6:30 p.m.
Tuesday, August 19
Sun Valley Summer Symphony: 2014 Season Finale. Performance of Copland’s Symphony No. 3. Sun Valley Pavilion, Sun Valley. 6:30 p.m.


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