. Interchanging Idioms: Baltimore Symphony Orchestra performs Philip Glass Co-commission, Icarus at the Edge of Time, January 14-16

Sunday, December 26, 2010

Baltimore Symphony Orchestra performs Philip Glass Co-commission, Icarus at the Edge of Time, January 14-16

Host of National Public Radio’s Weekend Edition Scott Simon narrates

Music director Marin Alsop leads the Baltimore Symphony Orchestra in a Greek myth for our times to be performed on Friday, January 14 at 8 p.m. and Sunday, January 16 at 3 p.m. at Joseph Meyerhoff Symphony Hall and Saturday, January 15 at 8 p.m. at The Music Center at Strathmore. Baltimore native Philip Glass and author Brian Greene have teamed up to present a multimedia recreation of Icarus at the Edge of Time, Greene’s board book for children. The host of National Public Radio’s Weekend Edition Scott Simon will narrate. Mark-Anthony Turnage’s Ceres and John Williams’ Star Wars Suite will also be performed.

Icarus at the Edge of Time retells the classic Greek myth of Icarus in a futuristic context. The story illustrates an interstellar voyage of Icarus and his family, where the young boy is fated to live and die aboard a spaceship, and weaves a tale vividly demonstrating Einstein’s theory of relativity in relation to a black hole. Icarus, despite warnings from his father, flies too close to a black hole and experiences the curvature of space-time. When the boy returns to his father and the spaceship, thousands of years have passed him, and it is too late to reconnect with loved ones.

Greene drew inspiration from his childhood in reconstructing this classic fable. The story works to convey two important messages to young readers: in changing the world, a great scientist may have to cope with the implications of his/her exploration and an understanding that science is a “wonderful, dramatic adventure story” and applicable in our world. The World Science Festival in New York City and London’s Royal Society of Science, two leading scientific organizations, commissioned the work along with the Southbank Centre.

Composer John Williams’ score for the first Star Wars movie won an Oscar, a British Oscar and a Grammy Award. In 2005, it was deemed by the American Film Institute the greatest American movie score of all time. Williams went on to score all six Star Wars films, creating in total some 14 hours of extravagant symphonic music. In order to enhance each movie’s connection to classic myths and tales, Williams and Star Wars creator George Lucas made the joint decision to base the music in tradition, making it emotionally familiar to compliment the unimaginable character of the films in an epic series which touches upon all the great human subjects in life. In the performance, a sequence of seven pieces will be played: four numbers drawn from the first film, two from the prequel The Phantom Menace and one from Attack of the Clones.

Ceres, commonly referred to as the dwarf planet, became an “orchestral asteroid” when British composer Mark-Anthony Turnage was inspired to create the masterful work, Ceres, which musically portrays an asteroid impact. Turnage was fascinated by the apocalyptic aspect of asteroids and the capability they have in destroying this world. “The idea of this piece is that different solid blocks of sound (the first two being a melody with a blooming clarinet accompaniment followed by a syncopated trombone idea) one after another in a thick, climactic passage collide and then separate again,” explains Turnage. The performance, most powerful in nature, comes across almost eerily as cellos playing under the bridge of their instruments create a wistful and chilling ambiance, in which the mind can only imagine blind and wayward solitude in a black abyss

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