The title, Artifacts, refers not only to the various cultural treasures and – literally – artifacts from centuries ago that the musicians got to see and learn about first hand, but also to the use of these pieces to symbolize the tour itself.
Four of these works were commissioned, in fact, for the tour. The first, the Shanghai Overture by Bright Sheng, is a clear, crisp and colorful work that evokes the sounds and culture of Sheng’s native China. As Sheng explains, he sought to create a fairly neo-Classical work that evokes Chinese folk music (most overtly noted in the opening brass chorales and echoed in the scintillating wind writing) Sheng cites Stravinsky as his inspiration for this idea, such as the suite Pulcinella, which evoked Pergolesi. This is a fairly compact work and – like all of Sheng’s work – is very colorful and fascinating to listen to.
I was particularly taken with The Shadow of Sirius by Joel Puckett, a new name for me. Puckett, an Atlanta native, is a graduate of the University of Michigan,..............
ARTIFACTS’ = BRIGHT SHENG: Shanghai Overture; JOEL PUCKETT: The Shadow of Sirius; MICHAEL DAUGHERTY: Lost Vegas; KRISTIN KUSTER: Two Jades; WILLIAM BOLCOM: Graceful Ghost Rag; Concerto Grosso – U. of Michigan Symphonic Band/Amy Porter, flute/Xiang Gao, violin/Donald Sinta Sax Quartet/Michael Haithcock – (2 CDs, incl. interviews with Bright Sheng, Joel Puckett, Michael Daugherty, Kristin Kuster, William Bolcom)
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