Portals, Scenes and Celebrations is composed of five contrasting but connected tableaux. The joints within and between the scenes are effortless portals to other dimensions rather than logical consequences. The music is energetic celebration of motion and color, occasionally pulling back to refresh and relaunch toward an ever brighter next quest, but never in search of serenity.
When Michael Tilson Thomas and I first corresponded about this new work, he suggested that the working title be “Easy Piece for Michael” … (and so it was). He quickly qualified that by saying that “easy has many meanings.” Other adjectives in that email such as “up tempo, joyous, dazzling” suggested that “easy” could refer to my job rather than to him and the players so I interpreted “easy” as license to indulge and enjoy my fantasies of lively content and playful continuity and trust my past experiences with MTT and the SFS that their nimble minds and agile hands would make joyous play out of demanding virtuosity.
Portals, Scenes and Celebrations is my gift to MTT at age 75. Over the past 25 years I’ve written more pieces – 6 counting this one – for MTT and the institutions he has been associated with than for anyone else. I am flattered that my work continues to interest MTT and I am grateful for all that I’ve learned from him about composing, performing and Music’s mission to facilitate song, dance and transcendent experience.
“Portals, Scenes and Celebrations is a series of colorful miniatures, each of which begins with a salient sound and then runs with it. A flighty viola solo becomes a spirited call-and-response that parades through the orchestra, down to the nearly unpitched drums. The subtle pointillism of spritzing aerosol cans transforms into jaunty harmonies that sound like Copland.” —San Francisco Classical Voice
“a 15-minute orchestral showpiece commissioned by the Symphony. It’s a joyous, brightly colored extravaganza, one in which seemingly every member of the orchestra gets a turn in the spotlight ...
Certainly Mackey is never at a loss for ideas; spiffy dance rhythms, ingratiating melodies and elaborate instrumental sonorities come tumbling forth in bold profusion.” —San Francisco Chronicle