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The Imagined Forest, which premiered to acclaim at the BBC Proms in 2021, receives its US premiere in May with the Baltimore Symphony Orchestra and Jonathon Heyward.

On May 19-21, the Baltimore Symphony Orchestra and conductor Jonathon Heyward give the US premiere of Grace-Evangeline Mason’s recent orchestral work, The Imagined Forest. The piece first premiered in 2021 at the BBC Proms with the Royal Liverpool Philharmonic Orchestra and Domingo Hindoyan, and has since been performed in Norway, Italy, Finland, Germany, with future performances scheduled in Australia.

> May 19-21: Grace-Evangeline Mason, The Imagined Forest (US Premiere)

The 11-minute work, commissioned by BBC Radio 3 and the Royal Liverpool Philharmonic Orchestra, is inspired by the work of Clare Celeste Börsch, a Berlin-based artist who uses collage techniques to build imagined worlds filled with foliage and fauna. Bringing together thousands of delicate hand-cut paper images, Börsch creates intricate and immersive spaces to transform ordinary rooms into magical forests. Mason’s work, in response, takes listeners on a fantastical voyage through the forest, featuring moments of “florid energy” contrasted against “large interludes of static stillness embodying expansive clearings,” as described by the composer.

Mason states: “The forest, a place rooted in fairy tales, fantasy and folklore, often represents areas of refuge, danger, transformation, and adventure. Recognising the forest as an ethereal and intangible entity, the piece seeks to momentarily transport the listener somewhere intimate and yet, surreal.”

When the work was premiered at the 2021 BBC Proms, critics praised Mason’s gift for color and ability to transport listeners to this fantasy world. The Times called the piece “appealing … filled with vivid orchestral colour,” while the Evening Standard wrote: “Mason skilfully shapes her attractive material to ensure we experience the sense of a transforming encounter with the imaginary forest.”

> Listen to excerpts of The Imagined Forest as Mason documents the rehearsal process through to the world premiere.

Concert Info
Friday, May 19 at 8pm | Meyerhoff Symphony Hall
Saturday, May 20 at 8 pm | Music Center at Strathmore
Sunday, May 21 at 3pm | Meyerhoff Symphony Hall
More info

Baltimore Symphony Orchestra
Jonathon Heyward, conductor
Xavier Foley, double bass

GRACE-EVANGELINE MASON The Imagined Forest (US Premiere)
XAVIER FOLEY Double Bass Concerto
TCHAIKOVSKY Symphony No. 6, “Pathétique"

>  Further information on Work: The Imagined Forest

Photo: Mark Mason

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