Performing Arts Center - SUNY Purchase College, Purchase, NY
National Youth Orchestra of the USA / Valery Gergiev
In anticipation of my new piece for the National Youth Orchestra of the United States of America in its inaugural season and tour with the Russian conductor Valery Gergiev, my thoughts naturally drifted eastwards. In writing a piece to precede two pillars of the Russian repertoire, and to be performed also in cities in Russia, I immediately thought of so much music that I adore in the great tradition of the Russian overture – from those of Glinka’s Ruslan and Lyudmila and Tchaikovsky’s Romeo and Juliet through those of Mussorgsky and Rimsky-Korsakov, and many of the 20th century, including Shostakovich’s Festive Overture. I also find myself drawn to a specifically Russian sense of magic – or magiya – in the stories, folklore and literature (old and new) of the country, a kind that often gets no explanation or justification; a ‘normal’, everyday magic. When these tales find their way to the stage (as, for example, in Rimsky-Korsakov’s The Golden Cockerel and Stravinsky’s Petrushka, some of most colorful and most exotic – and some of my favorite – music of the age is the result.
Magiya is a celebration of a wonderful new orchestra and an exciting tour, and is a humble nod to a brilliant musical tradition.
— Sean Shepherd
This program note may be reproduced free of charge in concert programs with a credit to the composer.
“Shepherd compresses a tremendous amount of frisky rhythmic energy into only eight minutes of music (not to mention a fair amount of whimsy), and his punchy eruptions of brass and percussion are laced with subtle echoes of early Stravinsky.” —Chicago Tribune