Tuesday, October 25, 2016

Premiered and Published: Burkhart, 'Fanfare St. Antoni'

On Sunday, September 25, 2016 I had the pleasure of attending the world premiere of my new composition, Fanfare St. Antoni, played by the Contra Costa Chamber Orchestra under the direction of my good friend, Timothy Smith, in the world-class Lesher Center for the Arts in Walnut Creek, California. Hear the world premiere HERE.

Walnut Creek's Lesher Center for the Arts

Fanfare St. Antoni is a strongly thematic and exciting fanfare for orchestral brass and percussion  3 trumpets, 4 horns, 3 trombones, tuba, timpani, triangle, tenor drum, bass drum, cymbals, and tam-tam. One of the CCCO trumpeters told me, "This is a great fanfare! Every orchestra in the country should play it." Naturally, I agree, but I'd add two points: I hope it gets played outside the US, as well, and it need not be played by orchestras only! The brass and percussion sections of bands can play it, and there are many brass ensembles that will add a few percussion players and embrace the work.

Find out more and order HERE.

Smith commissioned the work to celebrate his tenth season conducting the CCCO. Fanfare St. Antoni opened the program, which included music by Wolfgang Mozart, John Brahms, Cindy McTee, and Paul Hanson.

Ray with CCCO conductor Timothy Smith

Hanson soloed on Mozart's Bassoon Concerto in B-flat and on his own composition, Concerto Serpentique for electronic bassoon and orchestra. I loved Hanson's work, and his improvised cadenza, during which he played continually for over four minutes using the "circular breathing" technique, was simply amazing. The entire concert was very well done. It concluded with Brahms' great and famous Variations on a Theme by Joseph Haydn, which has long been one of my favorite works. It's one of Smith's favorites, as well.

The Contra Costa Chamber Orchestra. Tim Smith, Conductor

In fact, in conceiving the commission for the new fanfare – which opened the CCCO concert with its "Now and Then" theme – Smith hoped I could make a new composition with references to either Brahms' Variations on a Theme of Haydn or to the Chorale St. Antoni upon which it was based. It's a mix. Post-Brahms scholarship has revealed that the Chorale St. Antoni was not composed by Haydn, and I felt that too close a relationship to the Brahms masterpiece might limit the appeal of the new work, and so Fanfare St. Antoni stands on its own as a concert opener or fanfare for a special occasion, and its special Haydn and Brahms elements only add to the interest when programmed accordingly.

I am very grateful to Tim Smith for commissioning the work and to the Contra Costa Chamber Orchestra for premiering it. Bravi tutti!

Dr. Ray

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