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Classical 101

OSUs Contemporary Music Festival: Augusta Read Thomas

ONE AUDIO PIECE     The Ohio State University's 2010 Contemporary Music Festival is this week, with concerts on campus beginning April 7 and culminating in two performances with the Columbus Symphony in the Ohio Theater Saturday, April 10 at 8 PM and Sunday the 11th at 3. This year's Festival focuses on the work of Augusta Read Thomas. Ms.Thomas served as composer in residence for the Chicago Symphony, and has held faculty positions at Northwestern University, the Tanglewood Music Center, and the Eastman School of Music. Still only in her forties, Thomas is a prolific composer happy to work in a variety of genres: The Chicago Symphony, the Boston Symphony, the London Philharmonic, the Evian Music Festival with Rostropovich and now the Columbus Symphony are only a few of  the people and venues performing her music. Her Astral Chronicle was one of two finalists for the 2007 Pulitzer Prize in music. My favorite moment in any piece of music is the moment of maximum risk and striving. Born in Glen Cove, New York, Augusta Read Thomas is the youngest of ten children. As a young child she immediately "took to" the piano. In grade school the last name beginning with T had her toward the back of the line when the instruments were handed out. The trumpet was left. Her mother was mortified. But I'll let Augusta herself tell you the rest of the story, in a phone conversation I had with her a few days ago:

All art that I cherish has an element of love and recklessness and desperation. I like music that is alive and jumps off the page and out of the instruments as if something big is at stake.

[audio:augusta-read-thomas-arts-piece-version-1.mp3] The Columbus Symphony will perform Augusta Read Thomas's Alleluia (1996) with the Columbus Symphony Chorus and Prayer Bells (2001). Also on the program is the Firebird Suite by Stravinsky and Poulenc's Gloria.  Joana Carniero conducts, with Kendra Colton, soprano. Augusta will join me for pre-concert talks in the Ohio Theater Saturday April 10 at 7 pm and Sunday the 11th at 2 (one hour before performance time). The Saturday night performance will be broadcast live over WOSU. Don't miss the intriguing work of Augusta Read Thomas with concerts on The Ohio State University campus and at the Ohio Theater for Contemporary Music Festival 2010.

Prayer Bells is, I hope, at once vital, present and immediate on first hearing, while at the same time distinctive and spiritual so that it can withstand multiple hearings. My work , Prayer Bells for Orchestra craves a listener.....