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Composer Jonathan Bailey Holland’s World Premiere ‘Stories of Home’ Opens Cincinnati Symphony’s Renovated Music Hall

September 22, 2017 | By Stephanie Janes

Composer Jonathan Bailey Holland

Composer Jonathan Bailey Holland prepares for the world premiere of his Cincinnati Symphony Orchestra commission for the re-opening of the Music Hall October 6-7, 2017. Commissioned by conductor Louis Langrée to write a piece as part of their Grand Opening festivities, Holland has composed Stories of Home with the idea that over the decades, the Music Hall has served as a “home” for people from a variety of walks of life.

Holland composed the 12-minute, full orchestral piece as an homage to all of those who have called the land home over the years. The location on which Music Hall now sits was originally an orphanage and a pauper’s grave before the opening of the Music Hall in 1878. Since then, the hall has been the home of the Cincinnati Symphony, Cincinnati Pops, May Festival Chorus, and Cincinnati Opera. 

Holland says, “The location where Cincinnati’s Music Hall currently sits has had a rich past, serving as the historical locale for everything from a hospital, to an orphanage, an asylum, a paupers grave, to the home of the May festival, which included a German Saengerfest in 1870, which was hosted by the city of Cincinnati, which boasted a large German population during the mid to late 19th century. There are many stories and legends of spirits that remain in the hall from the past uses of this geographical area.”

He continues by saying, “Any musician of the caliber to participate in any of these organizations who perform in the Music Hall has made music their life, and subsequently has spent years of their life in this and other such halls, creating a home for their music making, and inviting others in to experience their art. Even the city itself has embraced the hall, and helped to maintain the venue, valuing the important service it provides for residents and visitors alike. It has been a home in many different guises for many different people, and the occasion of the premiere of this new work celebrates the history of the hall, as well as the lyricism, timbre, and sound of the orchestra.”

Holland has been commissioned by the Cincinnati Symphony Orchestra three times before, most notably for the work Equality, which paired the words of Dr. Maya Angelou with orchestra.

“Having worked with the ensemble on several occasions now, I am honored to both share in the celebration and offer a musical contribution for the occasion,” Holland concludes.

Full Program and Description:

JOHN ADAMS: Short Ride in a Fast Machine
BEETHOVEN: Piano Concerto No. 1
JONATHAN BAILEY HOLLAND: Stories of Home, World Premiere
SCRIABIN: Le Poème de l’Extase (Poem of Ecstasy)

Louis Langrée and the CSO christen the renovated hall with a program that showcases the full sonic splendor of the Orchestra and of Springer Auditorium, from the youthful energy of Beethoven’s Piano Concerto No. 1 to the epic vision of Scriabin’s Poem of Ecstasy. Short Ride in a Fast Machine, one of John Adams’ most celebrated masterpieces, as well as a world premiere by Jonathan Bailey Holland—commissioned by the CSO especially for the opening of Music Hall—cap this glorious moment in history.

About Jonathan Bailey Holland:

A native of Flint, MI, composer Jonathan Bailey Holland’s works have been commissioned and performed by numerous orchestras across America. Recent highlights include the release of Synchrony, a powerful classical music statement on Black Lives Matter on Radius Ensemble’s Fresh Paint CD; the premiere of Equality for narrator and orchestra by the Cincinnati Symphony Orchestra featuring the poetry of Maya Angelou with narration by actor Regina Taylor and rapper/actor Common; and the premiere of Forged Sanctuaries by Curtis on Tour, commissioned to commemorate the centennial of National Park Service. His piece, Clarity of Cold Air, was recently premiered at National Sawdust, and Equality was a featured piece at the annual League of American Orchestra’s conference in Detroit in June 2017.

A recipient of a 2015 Fromm Foundation Commission at Harvard University, he has received honors from the American Academy of Arts & Letters, American Music Center, ASCAP, the Presser Foundation, and more. He has served as Composer-in-Residence for the Plymouth Music Series of Minnesota (currently Vocal Essence); Ritz Chamber Players; Detroit and South Bend Symphony Orchestras; and the Radius Ensemble. His music has been recorded by the Cincinnati Symphony; the University of Texas Trombone Choir; trumpeter Jack Sutte; and flutist Christopher Chaffee. He has recently released a piece on Radius Ensemble’s new recording, Fresh Paint, and has an upcoming release planned with pianist Sarah Bob.

Holland earned a Ph.D. in Music from Harvard University and studied composition with Ned Rorem at the Curtis Institute of Music. He is Chair of Composition, Theory and History at Boston Conservatory at Berklee, and Faculty Chair of the Music Composition program at Vermont College of Fine Arts. He has also served as Professor of Composition at Berklee College of Music.




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