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World premiere by Colgrass Oct. 29
The Oxford Chamber Orchestra will perform the world premiere of "Ghosts of Pangea, A Fantasy of Cultures Meeting" at 3 p.m. Sunday, Oct. 29, in Miami University's Hall Auditorium.
Pulitzer Prize-winning composer Michael Colgrass was commissioned by Miami to write the piece as part of the department of musics "Music at Miami for the Millennium: Harmonizing Excellence, Hearing Diversity," with support from the Presidential Millennium Series for the Arts.
Pangea was the landmass that covered one-third of the earth 250 million years ago, before the land split into continents. Colgrass sees a new Pangea emerging as the world becomes closer through technology and as cultures become interrelated. In "Ghosts," the cultures meeting include musical styles of Europe, East India, Asia, Africa and the Mideast.
"My intent is to show some of the commonalities of these seemingly disparate musical styles," says Colgrass. "I am especially fascinated by the way different folk styles bend or distort certain pitches to intensify expressivity. Jewish folk music, for instance, sometimes sounds almost like the blues, and East Indian music can sound Arabic."
Colgrass is internationally renown as a composer and workshop leader. He received the 1978 Pulitzer Prize for "Deja vu," commissioned and premiered by the New York Philharmonic, and an Emmy award in 1982 for the PBS documentary, "Soundings: The Music of Michael Colgrass." He began his musical career as a percussionist.
Colgrass lives in Toronto with his wife. He will attend the premiere and work with student performers at Miami.
José-Luis Novo will conduct the premiere. The program opens with "Djembe Dances," a traditional African welcoming work performed by the African Dance and Drum Ensemble, William Albin conducting.
Other Colgrass music to be performed includes "Wild Riot of the Shamans Dream" by flutist Sandra Seefeld; "Winds of Nagual" by the Wind Ensemble, Gary Speck conducting; and "As Quiet As," by the Miami Symphony Orchestra, Jaime Morales-Matos conducting.
The concert is free but tickets are required, as seating is limited. Tickets may be reserved by calling the Miami University box office, (513) 529-3200, or the music department, (513) 529-3014.