The University of Wyoming Symphony Orchestra is set to perform the world premiere of a new work by composer Gwyneth Walker next week.
The performance is scheduled for 7:30 p.m. Thursday at the Buchanan Center for the Performing Arts Concert Hall. Tickets are $12 for the public, $8 for seniors and $6 for students and are available at the Buchanan Center and Wyoming Union box offices or at www.uwyo.edu/finearts.
Michael Griffith, director of the UW Symphony Orchestra who will be conducting the performance, described Walker’s work, “Earth and Sky,” as a multi-media piece that includes string trio, orchestra, narration and projected images.
Walker, a well-renowned composer who lives in Vermont, quit an academic job in 1982 to work full-time on music. She spent 30 years living on a dairy farm and has traveled the country working with groups that are rehearsing her work. Her catalog includes more than 350 commissioned works.
“If I mention her name to my colleagues around the country, they’re impressed that we’re getting to do a brand-new piece of hers,” Griffith said.
“Earth and Sky” was commissioned by Musica Harmonia, a chamber group that includes UW faculty cellist Beth Vanderborgh. The other members are violinist Joan Griffing and Diane Phoenix-Neal on viola.
The piece explores spiritual ideas about connections between people and the earth, as reflected in the music, the images and passages written by Henry David Thoreau, Chief Joseph of the Nez Perce Tribe and Chief Seattle of the Suquamish Tribe. Narrators will be Peter Parolin, Mia Holt and Eric Bennett.
Images in the performance were chosen by John Waggener, a curator at the American Heritage Center.
Griffith described Walker as a modern composer with a sound that’s “fascinating” instead of harsh.
“It’s something that audiences will find interesting rather than extraordinarily demanding of them,” he said.
The concert is scheduled to open with “Dawn on the Moscow River” by Russian composer Modest Mussorgsky before proceeding to “Earth and Sky.” The second half of the concert will be “Symphony in D Minor” by French composer Cesar Frank.