Symphony No. 5: Desert Music

New Mexico.jpg
New Mexico.jpg

Symphony No. 5: Desert Music

50.00

for voice and orchestra (2015)

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Michael Christie

Michael Christie

Click on the texts to enlarge them.

Victoria Vargas

Victoria Vargas


Kevin Hagen

Kevin Hagen

  • Premiere: 9 October 2015 / Phoenix Center for the Arts, Phoenix, AZ / Phoenix Symphony Orchestra / Victoria Vargas, soprano / Michael Christie, conductor
  • Instrumentaton: 3.3.3.3-4.3.3.1.timp.pf(=cel).hp.perc(3)-strs
  • Duration: 30'
  • Text: JoAnn Falletta (E)
  1. Desert
  2. Intensive Care
  3. Ghost Trumpeter
  4. Susurrus
  5. Interrupted Dream

“My fifth symphony is composed in memory of my brother Kevin Hagen, a protege of Arts Administrator Carl Dahlgren, who enjoyed a long and eventful management career in the symphony orchestra world here in the States, with posts at the Milwaukee, Florida, and Illinois Symphony Orchestras, the Denver Chamber Orchestra, Los Angeles Chamber Orchestra, and New Mexico Symphony.

There are five movements. The third and fifth feature a vocalist. The words are drawn from a book of poetry by JoAnn Falletta, a longtime friend, musical champion, and music director of the Buffalo Philharmonic and Virginia Symphony Orchestras.

The first movement is a chaconne — a series of repeated chords — that "flash before one's ears" as the memories of moments from a life might "flash before one's eyes."

The second movement is a musical mobile that freezes a single moment and examines it from many angles. The mobile's constituent elements are an ostinato based on the “S-O-S” Morse Code rhythm, the intermittent beeping of a heart-monitor, a scrap of half-remembered hymn, and shreds of distant trumpet calls.

The third movement sets the Falletta poem, “Ghost Trumpeter,” and is a musical portrait.

The fourth movement is another chaconne based on the chords from the first movement, this time a scherzo, susurrus-like and rainy, a mercurial shower in the desert.

The finale sets another Falletta poem, in which transfiguration and death figure. There’s comfort in some of the music, but mainly a peculiarly Midwestern muted fervor prevails. Ideas from the previous movements return, and an effort is made to find guidance in half-recalled Lutheran hymns. Elegiac, unsentimental music ushers in a return of the symphony’s opening and a final farewell.”

To read a piece about the symphony that I wrote for the Huffington Post, please click here.

JoAnn Falletta

JoAnn Falletta