GR Symphony’s ‘ArtPrize Triptychs’ features world premiere

The Grand Rapids Symphony opens its Crowe Horwath Rising Stars Series with a concert created in the spirit of ArtPrize - featuring music inspired by visual art. Associate Conductor John Varineau leads the orchestra in two performances of "ArtPrize Triptychs' - at 7 p.m. Thursday, Oct. 6; and at 8 p.m. Friday, Oct. 7, at St. Cecilia Music Center in Grand Rapids. The concert will include some projected images to enhance the listening experience.
Sep 29, 2011


The concert features the world premiere of a work commissioned by the Grand Rapids Symphony. The symphony invited three composers, who are also Grand Rapids Symphony musicians, to create one movement of a three-movement work titled “ArtPrize Triptych.” The movements are connected by a single musical chord and by a traditional three-movement musical design (fast, slow, fast).

The composers found inspiration in an art piece, or an art medium, that could be part of the ArtPrize competition. Each of the composers entered their works in the music category, new to ArtPrize this year.

The symphony has annually commissioned and performed a new work, inspired by visual art, during the ArtPrize competition. In 2009, the orchestra presented the world premiere of David Lockington’s “Ceremonial Fantasy Fanfare for ArtPrize.” Last year, audiences experienced Andrew Norman’s “The Great Swiftness,” inspired by Grand Rapids’ Calder sculpture of the same name.

The first movement of “ArtPrize Triptych,” “A Teapot” by Joel Schekman, is a musical composition for full orchestra based on a photograph — not unlike the 19th-century tone-poem.

The triptych’s second movement, “Encaustic for Solo Clarinet and Orchestra” by Alexander Miller, was inspired by encaustic art — a process of painting with melted wax.

“The clarinet, played by Suzanna Dennis Bratton, represents the artist and the orchestra represents the wax at various stages of temperature and viscosity,” Miller said. “The music suggests how the artist and the art become interchangeable, ultimately altering each other through the process.”

The triptych’s final movement, “Taking Shape” by Shannon Wood, was inspired by the use of water as an art medium and is a musical representation of how water can transform into various states of matter.

Also on the program is a foil to “ArtPrize Triptych” — Respighi’s “Trittico botticelliano” (Botticelli Triptych). Respighi’s inspiration was art, but the composer found his studies of early music valuable in achieving a style that would evoke the works of Sandro Botticelli (1444–1510).

Crowe Horwath Rising Stars concerts feature an intimate concert hall, a focus on emerging talent and talk from the stage. The Thursday night “Thursdays@7” format is a one-hour “re-mix” of the full concert presented on Friday evening, without intermission. “Thursdays@7” concerts also feature a post-concert “talkback” with the evening’s conductor, composers and guest artists.

Tickets start at $18 for the Oct. 6 performance and $26 for the Oct. 7 performance — and are available at the symphony office: weekdays 9 a.m. to 5 p.m., 300 Ottawa N.W., Suite 100, (located across from the Calder); or by calling 616-454-9451, ext. 4. Phone orders will be charged a $2 per ticket service fee, with a $12 maximum.

Tickets are available at the concert venue beginning two hours prior to the performance. Tickets may also be purchased through Ticketmaster at 800-982-2787, online at, or in person at Ticketmaster outlets.


Post a Comment

Log in to your account to post comments here and on other stories, galleries and polls. Share your thoughts and reply to comments posted by others. Don't have an account on Create a new account today to get started.