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D.C. AREA PREMIERE OF PHILIP GLASS' "CONCERTO FANTASY FOR TWO TIMPANISTS AND WIND ENSEMBLE" AT GMU

February 19, 2009
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GEORGE MASON UNIVERSITY’S

WIND SYMPHONY WINTER CONCERT

WITH TIMPANISTS JONATHAN HASS AND JOHN KILKENNY

PRESENT THE WASHINGTON, D.C. PREMIERE

OF PHILIP GLASS’ "CONCERTO FANTASY FOR TWO TIMPANISTS AND WIND ENSEMBLE"

Tuesday, Feb. 24, 2009 at 8 p.m.

Center for the Arts Concert Hall

 

FAIRFAX, Va., Feb. 17, 2009Philip Glass' "Concerto Fantasy for Two Timpanists and Wind Ensemble" will receive its D.C. area premiere this spring when George Mason University’s Wind Symphony, conducted by Mark Camphouse, performs the piece with timpanists Jonathan Haas and John Kilkenny as part of its Winter Concert at the Center for the Arts Concert Hall on Mason’s Fairfax campus on Tuesday, Feb. 24 at 8 p.m. In addition to “Concerto Fantasy,” the Wind Symphony will also perform Edward Gregson's "Festivo," Carlo Gesualdo's "Moro Lasso," Kathryn Salfelder's "Cathedrals" and Sergei Prokofiev's "March," Opus 99.

Percussion virtuoso Jonathan Haas conceived of the piece as part of his quest to spotlight the timpani. “Concerto Fantasy” features two solo timpanists playing a total of 14 timpani, all placed downstage in front of the orchestra.

“When I initially set out to commission a timpani concerto, I had no idea that it would take this long to develop and bring to fruition,” Haas said. “After having been active as a solo timpani recitalist, founding my jazz timpani ensemble and even making some head way (with my timps) into the world of rock music, I still had a strong desire to break through the concerto concept. I made up my mind to select two composers whose music I really admired and whom I thought might be open to writing a concerto for timpani. I chose Frank Zappa and Philip Glass. To my sorrow, Frank passed away far too soon, but I was able to pursue the idea with Philip, with whom I had had several opportunities to work. I performed a piece for double bass and timpani entitled “Prelude to an End Game,” which I presented in a recital at the 92nd Street Y. It was a great success, and I believe it was this that began to spark Philip’s interest in my work as a solo timpanist. After many starts and stops, we were finally able to pull together a consortium of orchestras to organize the commission and perform the piece.”

In 2000, Haas performed the world premiere of the “Concerto Fantasy” with the American Symphony, and he has subsequently performed it at Carnegie Hall with the New York Pops, at the Ravinia Festival with the Chicago Symphony and with the Seattle Symphony, St. Louis Symphony, Naples Philharmonic, Louisville Orchestra, Phoenix Symphony, New Jersey Symphony, Pasadena Symphony, Long Beach Symphony, Milwaukee Symphony and Mexico City's Orquesta Filarmonica de la Ciudad de Mexico, and at numerous venues across the globe. He has garnered widespread praise and attention from audiences and critics alike for his performances of the piece. “[‘Concerto Fantasy’] is a completely exhilarating explosion of primitive energy, zinging with cross-rhythms, repetitive patterns (of course), shifting pulses taken at breathtaking speed.” (Musical America). A reporter from the Naples Daily News wrote, “The visual impact alone of the sheer mass of gleaming timpani was nearly overwhelming. This is a concerto with such great rhythm, such energy, it was virtually impossible not to head nod or toe tap…I was practically whimpering in ecstasy throughout the entire performance”; while Gramaphone called the piece “ … one of the most engaging, impressive and beautiful things Glass has done.”

Haas has raised the status of the timpani to that of a solo instrument throughout a career that has spanned more than 25 years. His concerts on the world’s most prestigious musical stages and his groundbreaking recordings have delighted critics and listeners across the globe. “Wherever one finds a percussion instrument waiting to be rubbed, shook, struck or strummed, [Haas] is probably nearby, ready to fulfill his duties with consummate expertise … he is a masterful percussionist.” (The New York Times) His successful efforts to expand the timpani repertoire have led him to commission and premiere more than 25 works by composers in addition to Philip Glass such as Stephen Albert, Marius Constant, Irwin Bazelon, Eric Ewazen, Thomas Hamilton, Robert Hall Lewis, Jean Piche, Karlheinz Stockhausen, Andrew Thomas and many others. In addition, Haas is the director of New York University's Department of Music and Performing Arts Professions’ Percussion Studies Department, chair of the Juilliard Pre-College Percussion Department and a faculty artist at the Aspen Music Festival and School, where he has taught for the last 22 years. As active an entrepreneur as he is an artist, Haas also heads up several record companies, including Gemini Music Productions, which contracts musicians for Lincoln Center and the New York Pops.

Percussionist John Kilkenny enjoys a multifaceted career that includes regular orchestral performances with the National Symphony, Washington National Opera and Ballet, the Washington Concert Opera, the Master Choral of Washington, among others, both in Washington, D.C. and across the United States. He is also active as a chamber musician and a composer, and recently completed writing the solo percussion music for Don McCullough’s newest large scale choral work “Let my People Go, a Musical Journey through the Underground Railroad,” which premiered in April 2008 at the John F Kennedy Center for the Performing Arts. A committed music educator, John is currently a music professor at George Mason University, where he directs the percussion ensemble and teaches courses in percussion methods and private instruction.

The George Mason University Wind Symphony ranks among the finest collegiate wind bands in the Commonwealth, and performs the best in new band literature, including student and faculty compositions, and more traditional repertoire. Under the direction of composer and conductor Professor Mark Camphouse, the Wind Symphony was recently honored at the 2007 Virginia Music Educators Conference in Norfolk, Virginia.

 

Tickets for the George Mason University Wind Symphony Winter Concert  are $15 adults, $10 students/seniors. Charge by phone at 888-945-2468 or visit www.tickets.com. The Center for the Arts complex is located on the Fairfax campus of George Mason University at the intersection of Braddock Road and Route 123. Paid parking is located in the deck adjacent to the mainstage Concert Hall and FREE parking is located in university lot K.  Visit www.gmu.edu/cfa

The College of Visual and Performing Arts exists to create an academic environment in which the arts may be considered both as individual disciplines and as interdisciplinary forms that strengthen each other.  Believing that an education in the arts is deepened by regular contact with the work of distinguished visiting artists, the College draws on a variety of professional presenting and producing units where artists from across the country and around the world regularly perform, give master classes, work with students during extended residencies, and interact with the community in a variety of other ways. These programs at the Center for the Arts Concert Hall, TheaterSpace, Galleries, Harris Theater, and other venues, provide a diverse selection of challenging and entertaining cultural experiences for the University community, as well as Northern Virginia and the greater Washington, D.C. area. The College houses four academic departments: Art and Visual Technology, Dance, Music, and Theater.

About George Mason University

George Mason University, located in the heart of Northern Virginia’s technology corridor near Washington, D.C., is an innovative, entrepreneurial institution with national distinction in a range of academic fields. With strong undergraduate and graduate degree programs in engineering, information technology, biotechnology and health care, Mason prepares its students to succeed in the work force and meet the needs of the region and the world. Mason professors conduct groundbreaking research in areas such as cancer, climate change, information technology and the biosciences, and Mason’s Center for the Arts brings world-renowned artists, musicians and actors to its stage. Its School of Law is recognized by U.S. News & World Report as one of the top 35 law schools in the United States.