Boulder Philharmonic Orchestra
Michael Butterman, conductor
STEPHENSON Celestial Suite
HOLST The Planets
We honor the 100th anniversary of the first performance of Holst’s epic suite, The Planets. Our Open Space season blasts off with Jessie Montgomery’s exuberant Starburst and continues with James Stephenson’s Celestial Suite, inspired by pioneering astronomers throughout history.
Note: This concert does not include video projections.
About Jessie Montgomery, composer
Jessie Montgomery is a violinist, composer and music educator from New York City. She performs and gives workshops in the US and abroad and her compositions are being performed by orchestras and chamber groups throughout the country.
Jessie began her violin studies, at the Third Street Music School Settlement, one of the oldest community organizations in the country. Upon graduating with her Bachelor’s degree from the Juilliard School in Violin Performance in 2003, she joined forces with Community MusicWorks in Providence, Rhode Island, a nationally recognized leader in community development and music education. With this appointment came her first experience as a professional chamber musician as a member of the Providence String Quartet. She continued her chamber music endeavors as a founding member of PUBLIQuartet, a string quartet made up of composers and arrangers, featuring their own music as well as that of emerging and established contemporary composers. Since 2012 she has held post as a member of the highly acclaimed Catalyst Quartet, raved by The New York Times as “invariably energetic and finely burnished…performing with earthly vigor,” touring regularly in the US and abroad. Most recently she has become a collaborator with Yo-Yo Ma’s Silkroad Ensemble and will tour with them in the 2018-19 season.
Since 1999, Jessie has been affiliated with The Sphinx Organization, which supports the accomplishments of young African-American and Latino string players. As a member of the Sphinx network she has played numerous roles within the organization, as a teacher, juror, orchestra member and concertmaster, panelist and ambassador, as well as being a two-time laureate in their annual competition. Jessie was also Composer-in-Residence with the Sphinx Virtuosi, a conductor-less string orchestra which toured her music for three seasons. www.jessiemontgomery.com
About James Stephenson, composer
Leading American orchestras, instrumentalists, and wind ensembles around the world have performed the music of Chicago-based composer James M. Stephenson, both to critical acclaim and the delight of audiences. The Boston Herald raved about “straightforward, unabashedly beautiful sounds,” suggesting “Stephenson deserves to be heard again and again!” A formal sense of melody and tonality characterize his music, each embedded in a contemporary soundscape.
Most recently, Charles Vernon, Chicago Symphony bass trombonist, asked Stephenson to write a new concerto, a work to be premiered in their 2018-19 season under the direction of Riccardo Muti. A second bass trombone concerto will receive its orchestral premiere with the St. Louis Symphony and soloist Gerry Pagano in 2017. The 2017-18 season included a new “low brass concerto” with the Minnesota Orchestra and Osmo Vänskä.
The Devil’s Tale (2013), a sequel to Stravinsky’s famous “Soldier’s Tale” has become a highlight of Stephenson’s extensive chamber music output, having already garnered much critical praise for its recent recording (“a most remarkable work” – Fanfare Magazine) and numerous performances at noteworthy venues such as Ravinia and Millennium Stage at the Kennedy Center.
James M. Stephenson came late to his full-time composing career, having performed 17 seasons as a trumpeter in the Naples Philharmonic in Florida. As such, the composer is largely self-taught, making his voice truly individual and his life’s work all the more remarkable. As his catalog grew, so did his reputation. That catalog now boasts concertos and sonatas for nearly every instrument, earning him the moniker “The Concerto King” from Chicago Symphony clarinetist John Yeh. The vast majority of those compositions came through commissions by and for major symphony principal players, in Chicago, Boston, New York, Philadelphia, Minnesota, Washington DC, St. Louis, Oregon, Milwaukee, and Dallas, among others. www.composerjim.com