Frequent Flyers be part of Boulder Phil for ‘Butterfly Lovers’

Live performance April 30 contains music celebrating rebirth and reconnection

By Peter Alexander April 27 at 5 p.m.

Two years in the past, conductor Michael Butterman had drafted a program to have fun the return of spring with the Boulder Philharmonic Orchestra.

That program, initially deliberate for April 2020, needed to be postponed, as a result of COVID. However now the long-planned live performance celebrating renewal and rebirth has itself been resurrected for efficiency at 7:30 p.m. Saturday (April 30) in Macky Auditorium (tickets right here).

A earlier efficiency by Frequent Flyers Aerial Dance with the Boulder Philharmonic

“This was a program that was initially meant to replicate the notion of rebirth that occurs in springtime,” Butterman says. “It nonetheless displays that, but it surely has a further layer of which means for us—our personal emergence from our pandemic isolation.”

The start line for this system was The Butterfly Lovers Violin Concerto by Chinese language composers He Zhanhao and Chen Gang, which the Philharmonic will carry out with violin soloist Claude Sim and Boulder’s Frequent Flyers Aerial Dance Firm. Earlier than that efficiency the live performance will open with Undistant by Mason Bates, which addresses our return to human interplay after the current interval of widespread self isolation.

Unique costume design for Stravinsky’s Firebird by Léon Bakst (1913)

Filling out this system will likely be first Rimsky-Korsakov’s Russian Easter Overture, which has apparent seasonal significance. The ultimate piece will likely be Stravinsky’s Firebird, which Butterman chosen as a result of it ends with the rebirth of knights and 13 princesses who’ve been underneath a magic spell—one other connection to the concept of renewal.

The Butterfly Lovers Violin Concerto was written by two Chinese language college students of Western music on the Shanghai Conservatory and premiered in 1959. Written for a Western orchestra, it’s based mostly on a Chinese language legend of lovers who’re separated by demise, however reunited as butterflies. “It really works very properly for Western audiences,” Butterman says. “It’s extraordinarily relatable on first listening to.”

Butterman and the Phil have achieved plenty of performances with Frequent Flyers. He thought that The Butterfly Lovers can be a great piece for additional collaboration and recommended it to Nancy Smith, Frequent Flyers’ creative director. “It strikes me that it has a story arc, and definitely has potential as a piece for visible interpretation,” he says.

“(Smith) agreed and so they actually embraced the factor. They constructed this huge wing-like construction that will likely be hung above the stage. It acts as one fastened construction for a lot of the piece, but it surely additionally has hinges and it may bend like butterfly wings. It will likely be fairly one thing to see!”

Violinist Claude Sim

The soloist, Claude Sim, is affiliate concertmaster of the Colorado Symphony. The Phil’s concertmaster, Charles Wetherbee, was first scheduled to carry out the concerto, however when he grew to become unavailable Sim stepped in to function soloist and as concertmaster for the live performance.

The one piece that was not within the authentic program Butterman conceived two years in the past is Bates’s Undistant. That’s the piece on this system that greatest connects with the concept of individuals re-emerging from isolation because the pandemic abates—at the very least slightly. “Undistant is a bit that (Bates) wrote in 2020, and it’s a work that mirrors in some methods our separation,” Butterman says.

Michael Butterman. Picture by Jiah Kyun.

“There are two teams of musicians which might be positioned away from the remainder of the orchestra. (Bates) has written an electronica half that includes static, sounds of Zoom and different communication platforms that we got here to make use of a terrific deal through the pandemic. Over about seven minutes he brings these completely different parts again collectively, and there are little wisps of Beethoven’s ‘Ode to Pleasure,’ simply sufficient that it’s recognizable. That begins to coalesce till we have now an affirming and optimistic ending.”

Other than the theme of rebirth and renewal, there’s one factor that joins all 4 items musically, and that’s their uplifting endings. It’s there in all 4 items. In Bates’s Undistant, it’s the transformation from separation and static to hints of the “Ode to Pleasure.” Within the Butterfly Lovers, it’s the overcoming of first separation after which demise via the transformation of the lovers into butterflies, gently portrayed in music.

Within the second half, the Russian Easter Overture opens with the solemn tones of two Russian Orthodox hymns, “Let God Come up!” and “An Angel Cried.” Rimsky-Korsakov wrote in an autobiography that “the gloomy colours of the Andante lugubre appeared to depict the holy sepulcher . . . [and] the solemn trumpet voice of the Archangel is then displaced by a tonal replica of the joyous, dance-like tolling of the bells.”

The progress of Stravinsky’s Firebird is not any much less joyous, with “The Infernal Dance of Katschei” being adopted by the “Berceuse”—a young lullaby that lulls Katschei’s demonic minions to sleep—and the “Finale” that portrays in music the return of Katschei’s prisoners to life.

You may say these are 4 variations on the theme of life returning after a protracted winter—or a pandemic.

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“The Firebird and Frequent Flyers”
Boulder Philharmonic Orchestra, Michael Butterman, conductor
With Claude Sim, violin, and Frequent Flyers Aerial Dance

  • Mason Bates: Undistant
  • He Zhanhao and Chen Gang: The Butterfly Lovers Violin Concerto
  • Rimsky-Korsakov: Russian Easter Overture
  • Stravinsky: Firebird Suite (1919)

7:30 p.m. Saturday, April 30
Macky Auditorium


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