Augusta Read Thomas: A Farewell and New Beginnings

Augusta Read Thomas: A Farewell and New Beginnings
© Dan Rest
"I love my job at the Chicago Symphony Orchestra. The CSO has strengthened and encouraged my ever continuing-search for deeper musical understanding, sensitivity and grace." And so, Augusta Read Thomas bids thank you and farewell to her orchestral home of the last nine years when, on 1 June, Daniel Barenboim joins the CSO for the premiere of her double concerto Astral Canticle. Thomas served as the CSO’s Mead Composer in Residence since 1997, and Astral Canticle was commissioned by the CSO for their concertmaster Robert Chen and principal flutist Mathieu DuFour. The composer describes the 20-minute work as "a graceful chant-like canticle...that weaves its way through the entire composition in one variation or another."

Thomas reflects, "I learned something new every day at the CSO. I listened to countless CDs and poured over innumerable scores of living composers. For me, it has been a huge honor to work on the MusicNOW contemporary series: giving pre-concert lectures, hosting composers and interviewing them, studying their music, sitting with them in rehearsals...I also composed eight works for the CSO, everything from chamber ensembles to full orchestra..."

Also premiering this month is Prayer and Celebration, a chamber orchestra work commissioned and performed by the Saint Paul's School Orchestra in Concord, NH, of which Thomas is an alumna. Next month, the American Guild of Organists Convention takes place in Chicago, and offers up the first performance of Angel Tears and Earth Prayers for organ and trumpet. Despite leaving Chicago, Thomas keeps a busy schedule with upcoming residencies, performances and new commissions including works for the Dallas Symphony, Traces for pianist Lang Lang, and a violin sonata for Rachel Barton Pine.
 
Astral Canticle
Duration: 20'
Violin; Flute; 2+pic.3.3(bcl).2(cbn)/4.3.3.1/3perc.hp/str

 
Prayer and Celebration
Duration: 7'
1111/0000/str (7.7.6.6.3 approx)

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