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24 Sep 2020

Introducing Valerie Coleman, Andrea Venet & Quinn Mason

In addition to well-known music from Bach and Schoenberg, this weekend’s performances feature music from three living composers who may be new to you. Keep reading to learn more about Valerie Coleman, Andrea Venet, and Quinn Mason and to preview the music that will be performed this weekend.

Valerie Coleman, Performance Today’s 2020 Classical Woman of the Year and one of critic Anne Midgette’s “Top 35 Female Composers in Classical Music,” is among the world’s most played composers living today. Utah Symphony’s woodwind section will perform two movements from her Afro-Cuban Concerto, a work that focuses on Afro-Cuban rhythms, the feel of Santeria worship, and the virtuosity of wind instruments. The opening movement, “Afro,” represents the collective voice of worshippers within the Santeria religion, which has its origins in the Caribbean and is based on the Bantu and Yoruba beliefs of Western Africa combined with elements of Roman Catholicism. The third movement, “Danza,” presents the biggest challenge for wind quintet, due to the quickness of the rhumba and its demand for stability within layers upon layers of percussive rhythms. When stability is achieved, the repetitive rhythm takes on a life of its own, creating a sassy dance.

Dr. Andrea Venet is a percussion artist, soloist, educator, and composer specializing in contemporary and classical genres. She is currently Assistant Professor of Percussion and head of the department at the University of North Florida, where she directs the UNF percussion ensemble, teaches applied lessons, pedagogy, methods, and percussion literature. Three percussionists from the Utah Symphony will perform her Omnes Trio, which literally translates to “trio for all” in Latin. In this piece, Venet expresses this notion of equality within the medium of percussion and achieves this by scoring the work for a homogeneous set of instruments: a shared concert bass drum, a set of bongos for each player, and 2 opera gongs for each player. Similarly, a large portion of the musical material is homogeneous, where all three players are playing running 16th notes and splitting accents.

The concert concludes with the live performance premiere of a work commissioned by Utah Symphony musicians in summer 2020 and premiered online through YouTube and Facebook. Quinn Mason is a composer based out of Dallas, Texas with a mission is to compose music “based in traditional western art music and reflecting the times in which we currently live.” Changes/Transitions features the Utah Symphony brass and percussion and is a celebratory view on the progress that has been made with the recent Black Lives Matter protests, which happened nationwide May through July 2020. This piece asks us to ponder the question, “What can we do to get to where we want to be?”