Award-winning trumpeter Mary Elizabeth Bowden joins CYSO for world premiere of 'Bohemian Queen' Nov. 20 at Orchestra Hall
On Sunday, Nov. 20, Chicago Youth Symphony Orchestras is thrilled to reteam with Joliet native and CYSO alum Mary Elizabeth Bowden, this time for the world premiere of "Bohemian Queen: Concerto for Trumpet and String Orchestra" by Clarice Assad at 7:30 p.m. at Symphony Center's Orchestra Hall.
The subject of "Bohemian Queen," written specifically for Mary Elizabeth Bowden and CYSO, is the surrealist art of Gertrude Abercrombie (1909-1977), an American painter based in Chicago often called "the queen of the bohemian artists." As Assad observed in the program notes for the piece, "Abercrombie's paintings are characterized by their use of dreamlike symbolism and careful attention to detail. She was profoundly interested in the jazz scene and friends with and used to throw some amazing parties for musicians including Dizzy Gillespie, Charlie Parker and Sarah Vaughan."
"Bohemian Queen" is in three movements. The first two are inspired by two of her paintings: "Girl Searching" (1945) and "The Stroll" (1943). The third movement, "Hyde Park Jam," is an imaginary depiction of her memorable parties where she used to sit in as a pianist herself and play with jazz's greatest masters.
"Assad's latest work is a brilliant example of her sophisticated yet accessible style and a perfect vehicle for the powerful virtuosity of CYSO alumna Mary Bowden," said Music Director Allen Tinkham. "'Bohemian Queen'" illuminates why Clarice's eclectic and energizing voice is among the fastest rising in classical music today. We are thrilled to have Chicago's brightest young musicians take part in this important premiere giving them a personal experience with two fearlessly creative artists. CYSO is shaping the future of music by investing in the next generation of leaders, and as educators we have a responsibility to lead change tearing down old barriers so the next generation can dream bigger and lead even greater change."
Conducted by Tinkham the first half of the program will also feature an exciting lineup of these contemporary works:
• "Overture" by Jessie Montgomery (b. 1981). "Overture" was premiered in spring 2022 by members of the CSO. Per Montgomery, "'Overture' is a one-movement orchestral tutti steeped in harmonic textures inspired by a fusion between jazz and American classical harmonies, Baroque rhythmic gestures, and polyphonic tension."
• "Abstractions: Marble Moon" by Anna Clyne (b. 1980). "Marble Moon" is the first of five movements inspired by five contrasting contemporary artworks from the Baltimore Museum of Art and from the private collection of Rheda Becker and Robert Meyerhoff, for whom this music honors.
• "Father Antonio's Contrapuntal Prayers for Michael" by Daniel Bernard Roumain (b. 1971). Skokie-born Roumain wrote this piece is a tribute to a priest who served at the Alamo mission.
The second half of the program features the orchestra performing "Ein Heldenleben" (A Hero's Life/A Heroic Life) by Richard Strauss (1864-1949). This is one in a series of Stauss' tone poems, with a hero who is a thinly veiled version of the composer himself. Over the course of six sections, we hear vignettes of "the hero's" life, including adversaries (believed to be music critics) depicted by chattering woodwinds, and a tender violin solo for Strauss' wife.
CYSO presents their fall concert at Orchestra Hall, 220 S. Michigan Ave. at 7:30 p.m., Sunday, Nov. 20. Tickets for general admission floor and upper balcony will be $20; lower balcony $40-$50; boxes $60. Children age 7 and under are free. Tickets are on sale now at cyso.org/tickets or from the Symphony Center box office.