Lansing Symphony Preps a New Season of Soloists

Jul 15, 2018

Summer will be over before we know it and the Lansing Symphony Orchestra has a season of goodies starting in the fall. Maestro Timothy Muffitt sat down with Jamie Paisley to talk about them.


Jamie Paisley (JP): Each of the five Masterworks Series, they all have a soloist. Sometimes you just do concert pieces, but you're starting with a homegrown talent. 

Maestro Timothy Muffitt (TM): Right. Well this is one of our unspoken initiatives that I've spoken about so much that I don't think I can refer to it as unspoken anymore. We do like to feature our local talent that’s gone out and done great things, and there are just so many people that got their start here in the mid-Michigan area, and have gone out to make an extraordinary impact on the world of music. And that's the case of Melissa White. She has, is one of the founding members of the Harlem String Quartet, and she's coming back to open our season with two wonderful pieces: the Chausson Poème and the Havanaise of Saint-Saëns. [Ed Note: Ms. White will play the De Falla Poeme on this October 18th Concert.]

JP: For the second concert, it is another performer who, for the instrument she plays, there's not a lot of repertoire. But there is something new that has been written for her.

TM: Correct. So, Ava Ordman, who is an extraordinary performer on the trombone, had been working with David Biedenbender who's on the faculty at Michigan State University. We are going to be giving the world premiere of a piece that he gave the colorful name "Their Eyes Are Fireflies".                                                         

JP: When you have a piece that is written from somebody local like David Biedenbender, does he have free reign and then you look at the instrumentation and program around what will work with that?

TM: Yeah, good question. We talked about that early on. So as I was planning this season, I approached him and said ‘What are you anticipating this orchestra, the size, the instrumentation?’ then we planned that concert around that instrumentation. 

JP: Which in this case is the Brahms 3rd Symphony & Beethoven’s Egmont Overture. For the third Lansing Symphony concert… Semiramide by Rossini is a very famous female warrior hero figure, and then followed up by a Pulitzer Prize winning composer that is a woman as well.

TM: Right, and a woman soloist as well, all of whom kind of fit in to that Semidamide mold. I mean, extraordinary women with a very powerful presence.

JP: And this is the, Jennifer Higdon is the composer we're talking about. Jennifer Higdon, Pulitzer Prize winning composer. The Harp Concerto, is it- it's a new piece, it's a co-commission? 

TM: Brand New, we're part of consortium that is, we're presenting the premiere in this region, and we are part of a collection of several orchestras that went together to help make this happen.

JP: In the fourth Masterworks concert, Rainbow Body is easily Christopher Theofanidis's best known work, but you've gone somewhere else with that.

TM: Rainbow Body we did a few seasons ago and it was so well received by our audience I thought they would enjoy hearing another work of his, and this is a work, "Visions and Miracles", and that title is quite evocative of how the music sounds. It's very spiritual music.

JP: And for the grand finale of the Lansing Symphony season, you’re bringing back somebody that was just here a couple of season ago.

TM: Yes. Daniel Hsu, came to us as part of our partnership with the Gilmore Competition and he's, some great things have been happening for Daniel. He's been a medalist in the Cliburn Competition, so we thought the audience would like to see, kind of where he is now and where he's gotten to since he was here before. 

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While Maestro Timothy Muffitt and I only had time to discuss the upcoming Lansing Symphony Masterworks concerts, there are also the Pops, Chamber and Family series performances as well. More information about the whole season is available online at LansingSymphony.org