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Feb 11: Youth Orchestra and Fireworks Ensemble

February 11 @ 8:00 pm - 10:00 pm


Musical Fireworks: Region’s Premiere Youth Musicians Join Fireworks Ensemble for Unique Evening of Contemporary American Music Featuring World-Premiere Piece

Empire State Youth Orchestra Joins World-Renowned Chamber Ensemble on Feb. 11 with Support of New Music USA

From a world-premiere to the music of Grateful Dead and West Side Story, the evening of musical collaboration between the young musicians of the Empire State Youth Orchestra and the world-renowned artists of the Fireworks Ensemble on February 11, 2017 at Proctors Theatre will “play” with the audience’s perceptions of contemporary American chamber and instrumental music. The concert, which begins at 8 p.m. will blend Fireworks Ensemble’s contemporary American vision of chamber music with the talent of the region’s premier youth musicians. The night will showcase daring improvisation and a sampling of chamber, solo, and orchestra performances of music that crisscrosses genres, including the world-premiere of a piece commissioned by Empire State Youth Orchestras through a grant from the prestigious New Music USA.

The commissioned work was written by composer and Fireworks’ founder and bassist, Brian Coughlin. The piece, entitled Play, was written specifically for youth musicians. It blends the nuance of chamber performance with the strength of a full orchestra. The creation of the work was supported in part by New Music USA, an organization helping new music reach new ears every day byproviding over $1 million each year in grant support for the creation and performance of new work and community building throughout the country.

“We are thrilled to be working with New Music USA, Brian, and the entire Fireworks Ensemble for this exciting concert of diverse styles of American music, including the world premiere piece, which embraces musical styles from Bach to Rock.” said ESYO Music Director Helen Cha-Pyo. “ESYO has a long history of commissioning works and bringing in composers and guest artists and, every time, our young musicians’ musical world expands into new territories. In working with Fireworks, you will see another side to our musicians, watching them improvise and, frankly, ‘play’ with the audience from the stage alongside the Fireworks crew. ”

In addition to the world-premiere of Play, the youth orchestra will perform Michael Torke’s stadium-rousing, Javelin and a West Side Story medley alongside the Fireworks members. Fireworks Ensemble will also perform a full set of uniquely arranged, New American classics including works by Derrick May, Grateful Dead, Mercer Ellington and A Tribe Called Quest.

In addition to the concert, Fireworks has been working closely to mentor the members of the youth orchestra during their rehearsals, according to Helen. During a three-day residency in Schenectady just before the concert, Fireworks will also conduct interactive performances on American music and workshops designed to introduce young musicians to the concepts and techniques used in improvisation at several schools in the capital region.

“Education has always been a major facet of Fireworks Ensemble’s work, but this project is a very exciting development for the group.  Our residency with the ESYO will be the first time the ensemble will have the opportunity to use a new composition for a side-by-side performance with an orchestra.  The work I created for Fireworks and the ESYO will allow the young musicians not only to “play” alongside Fireworks, but also to experience first-hand the wide variety of musical styles and techniques that Fireworks uses in its repertoire.  In particular, we’re very excited to be working with the musicians of the ESYO on the creative, collaborative, playful approach we try to bring to our performances.  I think the project has really opened up the minds and ears of the members of the orchestra to new ways of approaching the music they play.  In one section, they literally have to make up music on the spot — to improvise — in dialogue with the members of Fireworks.  It doesn’t get much more spontaneous and exciting than that!  This is not a kind of playing that most of them have done before, but they’ve really embraced the idea and have started to realize that the musical skills they have to use in a situation like this can really have an impact on the way they approach their orchestra and chamber music playing as well.”

Tickets for the Feb. 11 concert are $20-30 and are on sale through the Proctors Box Office. To learn more or to purchase tickets, click here.

About Fireworks Ensemble: Founded in 2000 by composer/bassist Brian Coughlin, Fireworks’ journey began with Coughlin’s rock-inspired version of Stravinsky’s orchestral masterpiece, The Rite of Spring, which quickly drew the attention of critics and a national audience. Since then, the ensemble has expanded its repertoire with programs that combine music from a wide range of styles and time periods into cohesive musical experiences. Dance Mix (700 years of dance music from around the world), Cartoon (music and video inspired by the golden age of animation), None of the Above (the virtuosic instrumental music of Frank Zappa), and American Tapestry (great American folk, rock, jazz, and classical masterpieces), have inspired critics to label the group “adventurous and ahead of the curve” (The Washington Post), “classically-trained but musically fearless” (Time Out New York), and “the bridge between the contemporary classical new music ensemble and the mainstream popular audience” (The Wall Street Journal) and prompted Anne Midgette of the New York Times to write, “Finally labels ceased to matter: this was just music and it sounded like music to keep.” Fireworks tours throughout the United States each year and has appeared at venues ranging from Carnegie Hall, The Library of Congress, The Philadelphia Chamber Music Society, and The Chautauqua Institution to rock and jazz clubs such as (le) Poisson Rouge, The Knitting Factory, and Tonic. For more information, visit fireworksensemble.org.

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February 11
8:00 pm - 10:00 pm
Event Category:


432 State St.
Schenectady, NY 12305 United States
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