Fanfare of Firsts at Symphony. April 17th Preview

April 15, 2010 2 comments Open printer friendly version of this article Print Article

There is a lot of excitement about this weekend's symphony performance, and it isn't focused on the mammoth concerto for piano and orchestra that will close out the evening. Instead, the fanfare goes to all the firsts. Violinist and composer Piotr Szewczyk will premiere his Fanfare for the First Coast, a piece commissioned by the Jacksonville Symphony Orchestra after Szewczyk was named winner of the 2008 Fresh Ink Florida Composers? Competition. Beth Slater tells us what to expect this weekend!

 Fanfare for the First Coast has a bright opening that dissipates and fluctuates into peaceful sound, Szewczyk, a full member of the Symphony since 2007, told Metro Jacksonville. “The transitions are fluid. One section leads to another very differently. It doesn’t stay too long in one mood, like the weather. Even when you think it’s constant, it leads to something else and is constantly evolving.”

“I find the dark side of nature fascinating,” said Szewczyk (pronounced Shev-Chick).  

Szewczyk said he has been fascinated by weather, particularly off the coast, for some time. Soon after winning the Fresh Ink competition in May 2008, he began to brainstorm ideas for the piece. He would visit the beach and be inspired by the sun, clouds, storms and waves, and would return home to write music, which further inspired his weather watching.

“Writing for orchestra is particularly effective in translating the characters, emotions and images I observed in nature because orchestra has an incredible range of possible expressive colors,” he said.

The Fanfare, at 12 minutes, took a year and a half to compose.

“The process of composing such a large, complex piece takes time to unfold and has many layers,” Szewczyk said. I was sketching out ideas and the dramatic narrative of the piece. As soon as I had a skeleton on the whole piece, I started working on developing the inner sections of the piece, so the piece grew from the inside out, filling up the structure around it.”

Szewczyk submitted his work to the Symphony library this January so the final score and instrumental parts – 27 in all – could be created, edited and proofread.

Although this is not Szewczyk’s first composition – his work has been performed by the New World Symphony in Miami and ensembles in Los Angeles, Nashville and New York City – it is the first time a member of the Jacksonville Symphony Orchestra has performed his or her own work. The composer didn’t get any special treatment, though.

“Writing your own piece does not make it automatically easy to play. It is good for the orchestra to see me play. They say you ‘make your cake and eat it, too;’ I share the responsibility of learning with everyone,” he said.  

Szewczyk said it’s rare for a composer to perform his or her own work; he joins a small group at this weekend’s performance, including the composer of the final work. Piano Concerto No. 3 by Sergei Rachmaninoff premiered in 1909 in New York with Rachmaninoff as soloist, according to program notes by Dr. Richard E. Rodda.  

Brazilian-born pianist Arnaldo Cohen is the featured soloist in the work also known as the Rach 3 and popularized in the mainstream after the 1996 movie “Shine.” The piano concerto is the only piece of the evening that has been performed previously by the Symphony.

Two works by Felix Mendelssohn, Psalm 98 and Psalm 114, will be performed as well and feature the talents of the Jacksonville Symphony Chorus.

Performances are at 7:30 p.m. Thursday, 11 a.m. and 8 p.m. Friday and 8 p.m. Saturday. Words on Music begins one hour prior to the performance in Jacoby Hall.