On Sept. 23, the Lexington Symphony's season 2012-2013 season will begin with a Sunday afternoon concert including Ralph Vaughan Williams' Symphony No. 2, known as the London Symphony, and two movements from a piece by Jennifer Higdon entitled CityScape. (For more information about the concert, or to buy tickets, click here.)
The concert's theme is a celebration of place, of towns and cities - including our own!
To honor Lexington and its 300th anniversary, the symphony is will be performing a world premiere. The world premiere piece, Dissolving Bands, was composed by a young woman named Sky Macklay. Macklay was selected to write a piece through a process of collaboration with the Walden School in New Hampshire, a summer music school and festival that offers programsthat emphasize creative application, specifically through music improvisation and composition. A jury consisting of Lexington Symphony Music Director Jonathan McPhee and Walden School leadership selected Macklay to be the recipient of a commission by the Lexington Symphony. The composer was asked to reflect onthe possible meanings of the town’s 300th anniversary in musical language.
Here is what Macklay has to say about her process and inspiration:
When I first began composing a piece to celebrate the tercentennial of Lexington, I reflected on scenes I encountered in New England over my past three summers with The Walden School. I remembered decrepit graveyards, humble churches, and historic government buildings, some dating back to the mid-1700s. These places sparked ideas of what life would feel and sound like in the nascent United States at a time of instability and revolutionary energy. In an abstract way, my piece especially alludes to Lexington’s role in the American Revolutionary War. Musically, I channeled the emotions that the Massachusetts colonists may have felt before the eruption of the Revolutionary war, beginning with rapidly changing instrumental choirs ascending in staccato clusters of unpredictable turbulence and ever-mounting tension. Later sections express uncertainty, fortitude, and the calm, open space of unknown future possibilities.
As I was searching for a title for my piece, I recalled the first sentence in the Declaration of Independence which begins, “When in the Course of human events it becomes necessary for one people to dissolve the political bands which have connected them with another…” The title of my piece, Dissolving Bands, is a reference to this line and the role Lexington played in ending England’s patriarchal relationship with the colonies. The title is also significant because it describes the musical material. Throughout the piece, I create bands of sound that I then dissolve in various ways; gradually, suddenly, temporally, orchestrationally. I would like to thank Jonathan McPhee, The Lexington Symphony, and The Walden School for making this commission possible. It has been an immense joy to write this piece for the Lexington Symphony and I cannot wait to hear them realize it!