It has been over a year since the New Voices project named the third “emerging” composer to be supported through professional development assistance. The project was launched in May of 2012 as a partnership of the two ensembles directed by conductor Michael Tilson Thomas (MTT), the New World Symphony (NWS) and the San Francisco Symphony (SFS), and the music publisher Boosey & Hawkes. The first two beneficiaries were Zosha Di Castri and Cynthia Lee Wong, whose respective compositions, “Lineage” and “Carnival Fever,” were given West Coast premieres by SFS in September of 2013 and January of 2015.
The latest composer to be recognized is no stranger to San Francisco. He was composer-in-residence in the Choral Arts Laboratory of the Volti chorus during that group’s 2009–10 season, during which time he composed the mini-suite Privilege, working with, among other sources, the text of an interview given by David Simon to Bill Moyers. Privilege has enjoyed the privilege, so to speak, of being recorded twice, once by Volti in conjunction with their premiere performance of the work and again last year by The Esoterics on their album Sirene: a modern answer to the ancient call.
For New Voices Hearne has composed an instrumental suite of five short movements entitled Dispatches, He has stated that the piece was inspired by “the wide gulf between music heard inside and outside the concert hall.” This may explain why he augmented his scoring to include electric guitar and electric bass. The piece was given its world premiere by NWS led by Conducting Fellow Christian Reif this past January. At the end of next month Reif will come to Davies Symphony Hall to lead SFS in the composition’s West Coast premiere.
The remainder the program will be conducted by MTT. Soprano Susanna Phillips will appear as guest artist for a performance of Samuel Barber’s Opus 24, “Knoxville: Summer of 1915,” a setting of opening text from James Agee’s memoir A Death in the Family. For the second half of the program, MTT will conduct a single work, Pyotr Ilyich Tchaikovsky’s Opus 74 (“Pathétique”) symphony in B minor.
This program will receive four performances in Davies Symphony Hall. They will take place at 8 p.m. on Wednesday, September 30, Friday, October 2, and Saturday, October 3, and at 2 p.m. on Thursday, October 1. Ticket prices range from $15 to $170. Tickets may be purchased through the event page for this concert on the SFS Web site. They may also be purchased at the Davies Box Office on Grove Street between Van Ness Avenue and Franklin Street or by calling 415-864-6000. The Inside Music pre-concert talk will be given by Hearne in conversation with Peter Grunberg one hour prior to each performance. This event is free to all ticket holders, and the doors open fifteen minutes before the lecture begins. In addition a free podcast by KDFC’s Rik Malone about Tchaikovsky’s symphony will be available for live streaming from the Program Note Podcasts Web page.