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Rising young composer Gabriella Smith conjures the spaces and sounds of California, responding to landscapes both urban and rural, geographical and metaphysical. Igor Stravinsky depicts a festive, folk-inflected Slavic wedding in his ballet Les Noces, augmented by Steven Stucky’s orchestration and artist Hillary Leben's vivid new animated shorts. Stravinsky’s Octet for Winds and Brass, a uniquely scored neoclassical work, was inspired by a late-night dream.
This concert is part of the California Festival: A Celebration of New Music
The California Festival at the San Francisco Symphony is made possible by Sakurako and William Fisher.
At A Glance
Igor Stravinsky’s Octet is a lean, neoclassical work for an unusual combination of wind instruments, inspired by a late-night dream. The composer described it as “not an ‘emotive’ work but a musical composition based on objective elements which are sufficient in themselves.”
Gabriella Smith stands at the intersection of environmentalism and music, lending her skill as a composer to promoting thought about climate change. Breathing Forests was inspired by a subject on the mind of all Californians, the immense wildfires that consume ever-increasing acreage within the state. She casts her piece as a concerto for organ, an instrument which “breathes” much as the respiration of a forest exchanges carbon dioxide for oxygen.
Stravinsky described Les Noces (The Wedding) as “choreographed Russian scenes with singing and music,” drawing on Slavic wedding traditions. He initially imagined it for an orchestra even more massive than The Rite of Spring, but by the time he finished it, he landed on simply four pianos and percussion. Could we imagine how different Les Noces might have sounded if Stravinsky had followed his initial impulses? Today we hear it in a scaled-up orchestration by the late composer Steven Stucky with new animations by Hillary Leben.
Enrich Your Experience
- Saturday, November 18 from 6:30pm-7:00pm: Learn how sounds become pictures in a preconcert discussion with artist Hillary Leben, hosted by Phillippa Cole and presented from the stage. Free to all ticketholders.
- Head to the lobby bar to sip your way through the West Coast with beer and wine from California.