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Posted on Mon, Jan 31, 2011 : 10:57 a.m.

University of Michigan Symphony Band to showcase works commissioned for tour of China

By AnnArbor.com Freelance Journalist

The University of Michigan Symphony Band concert on Friday, February 4 at 8 p.m. in Hill Auditorium will feature two world premieres, a new work by U-M composing faculty Michael Daugherty and a new arrangement by William Bolcom. Both composers will participate a pre-concert talk about these works at 7:15 in the Hill lobby.

The University Symphony Band, under the direction of Michael Haithcock, is preparing for a May tour to China. They are working on the tour repertoire, which will feature four new or newly arranged works by Bolcom, Daugherty, and School of Music, Theatre & Dance faculty composers Bright Sheng and Kristin Kuster. Sheng and Kuster’s works will be premiered at a concert on Friday, April 8, again at 8 p.m. at Hill Auditorium. Both concerts are free and open to the public.

Friday's concert will feature other works that will tour with the band, including George Gershwin’s "Cuban Overture" and three American marches: "The Melody Shop" by Karl King, "Rolling Thunder" by Henry Fillmore, and John Philip Sousa’s iconic "The Stars and Stripes Forever," now the national march of the United States.   Michael Daugherty, who has a recording of his works nominated for five 2011 Grammy Awards, wrote "Lost Vegas" for the Symphony Band. Daugherty calls the work “my musical homage to bygone days, when enormous neon signs punctuated the Las Vegas Strip.“ The work is set in three movements — "Viva," "Mirage" and "Fever"— played without pause. The composer describes a section of "Mirage," inspired by a recent drive through Death Valley, as “steamy brass chords and twisting countermelodies played by winds and percussion keyboards, punctuated by ominous bass drum.”   William Bolcom’s Concerto Grosso has been reworked for symphony band. In this case, a saxophone quartet is the “soloist” performing in dialogue with the symphony band. Bolcom wanted to emphasize the quartet’s “fourness,” which conjured up, for him, groups like the Four Lads, the Beatles, and certain Motown groups who dressed alike—and often moved in unison—to underscore their solidity as a group.   For more about the upcoming tour, visit music.umich.edu/china.