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Asian Fusion

October 15, 2022 @ 7:30 PM  - Belle Mehus

Connect the familiar strains of “Madame Butterfly” with invigorating rhythms and colors of this Asian-inspired concert — also the North Dakota premiere of Carter Pann’s Concerto for Soprano Saxophone, featuring saxophonist Christopher Creviston.

You can purchase tickets here, or at the Bismarck Event Center box office to avoid convenience fees.


Overture in Classical Style.....................Quinn Mason
In the Steppes of Central Asia...............Alexander Borodin (1833-1887)
Concerto for Soprano Saxophone................Carter Pann
         I. The Old Line
         II. Aria: Injurious Graffito
         III. Jump! 
         IV. Hymn: A Love Supreme
                                  Christopher Creviston, soprano saxophone 
The Abduction from the Seraglio: Overture......Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart (1756-1791
Selections from Madame Butterfly (Instrumental).....Giacomo Puccini (1858-1921) arr. Tavar
Rhapsody for Orchestra...........Yuzo Toyama (b. 1931) 

Program Notes

Quinn Mason’s Overture in Classical Style
This piece is a concert overture for orchestra that pays tribute to the style of 18th century classical overtures, such as those that would' ve been written by Haydn or Mozart, but asks the question: What would they have written in the 21st century? The composition contains all sorts of surprises, including unpredictable time signatures (resulting in a not so steady feel) and creative orchestration.
-Quinn Mason
Quinn Mason (b. 1996) is a composer and conductor based in Dallas, Texas.  Quinn has been described as “a brilliant composer just barely in his 20s who seems to make waves wherever he goes.” (Theater Jones) and "One of the most sought after young composers in the country" (Texas Monthly). He recently served as the Detroit Symphony Orchestra's Classical Roots composer in residence for 2022 (the youngest composer to serve in that role) and currently serves as KMFA's inaugural composer in residence. In the 2022-2023 season, he will serve as Artist in Residence of the Hartford Symphony Orchestra.
In the Steppes of Central Asia
Alexander Borodin composed the symphonic poem, In the Steppes of Central Asia in 1880 at the commission of Alexander II of Russia on the occasion of his Silver Jubilee.  It was intended to be the back ground music to something called a tableau vivant – an art form of the times that required actors to pose, frozen in a set position and staging often created to resemble a painting.

The ‘production’ or performance if you will was called off after an attempted assassination on Alexander. Rimksy-Korsakov rescued it, though, for the 1880 season with his Russian Opera Orchestra and it has since become a concert favorite. The music, full of lush, memorable melodies, is beautifully visual in its musical descriptors: the listener can easily hear the Russian troops and Central Asians as they trekked across the steppe. Each (the Russians and Central Asians) has their own theme or motif, which briefly intertwine before the Asian music wafts off into the distance and the Russian theme is left alone.
Concerto for Soprano Saxophone
My Soprano Saxophone Concerto (2019) was written for Chris Creviston and commissioned by Chris, the ASU Symphony Orchestra, and the SUNY Potsdam Symphony Orchestra. The work lasts about 15 minutes and does what it can to show the many sides of one of my favorite musicians on the planet. The work is cast in four movements and makes use of a varied orchestral palette.
I. The Old Line (orchestra without brass) presents the soloist almost immediately, akin to the technique in Mendelssohn’s beloved Violin Concerto. The saxophone weaves a song-like melody throughout, often reaching for the highest register of the instrument.
II. Aria: Injurious Graffito (full orchestra) was the first movement to be written, inspired by a line in an old television series. I fell in love with the two words “Injurious Graffito” the way they are delivered on the show. The music, like the TV show, is lofty and somewhat arrogant.
III. Jump (full orchestra) is a written-out improvisation on the saxophone. Chris is particularly adept at the leaps and quick changes found throughout the movement, which culminates in a straight-ahead tune incorporating shapes that foreshadow the tune in the last movement.
IV. Hymn: A Love Supreme (string orchestra and harp) is a torch song of unabashed sentimentality. A surprising admission: I was not thinking of John Coltrane’s famed album of the same name when naming this last movement. Perhaps it was a subconscious decision, but I was startled to put two and two together upon reacquainting myself with the Coltrane once the concerto was completed.
- Carter Pann 
The Abduction of the Seraglio: Overture
Composer/conductor Yuzo Toyama was born in Tokyo in 1931. Toyama has served as the principal conductor of a number of orchestras in Japan, being designated as permanent conductor of the NHK Symphony Orchestra and the Sendai Philharmonic Orchestra since 1989.As a composer he was influenced by the music of Bartok and Shostakovich in particular, and like Kodaly he makes great use of indigenous folk melodies in his works.  His piece, Rhapsody for Orchestra (1960) is a dramatic showpiece.  Composed as an encore, it features the Japanese folk melodies by passing them throughout the orchestra, accompanied by building, pulsating, vibrant percussion. 
The Abduction of the Seraglio is one of Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart’s singspiels.  (Meaning an opera with spoken dialogue.)  The plot concerns the attempt of the hero Belmonte, assisted by his servant Pedrillo, to rescue his beloved Constanze from the seraglio of Pasha Selim. The work premiered on 16 July 1782 at the Vienna Burgtheater, with the composer conducting.
Selections From Madame Butterfly
In researching to create fitting program notes for the BMSO’s performance of selections from Madame Butterfly, one enters two vastly different arenas. On one hand, the opera is one of the most-performed in the world, and is beloved by opera fans and musicians alike. Its popularity is easy to understand, for its soaring, heart-wrenching lyricism and tragic story of love and commitment that have the capacity to move audiences deeply. And yet, Butterfly is also one of the most reviled operas today, charged with a condescending use of ethnic stereotypes and with a cruel objectification of women’s suffering.
Giacomo Puccini produced Butterfly in 1904, drawing on a short story by John Luther Long (1897) and a one-act play by David Belasco (1900). Chronologically, the opera is right in the middle of Puccini’s output. Musically, it begins a period during which Puccini’s compositions exhibit a more daring harmonic language, showing the influence of Richard Wagner. Following a terrible premiere, he kept revising the work until 1907. Throughout the opera, Puccini and his librettists display serious research into Japanese culture. The instrumental selections performed on this concert show the beautiful harmonic and melodic language for which Puccini is well-known. I encourage you to research on your own to find further synopsis of the whole opera libretto and to listen to and experience live if you can, the whole work!