American composer

Acclaimed American Composer Adam Schoenberg’s “Orchard in Fog” to Premiere in San Diego

When it comes to music, American composer Adam Schoenberg considers what he sees just as important as what he hears.

That’s why, when famous violinist Anne Akiko Meyers asked him to write a violin concerto in 2016, he was inspired by a photograph of an apple orchard in central Massachusetts, in his hometown of New Salem, where he and his wife were married. The photo, a wedding gift from photographer Adam Laipson six years ago, “hangs in our bedroom and I wake up every day.”

“It’s beautiful, it’s spellbinding, it’s beautiful,” Schoenberg, 37, said by phone from his Los Angeles home. “It was the perfect inspiration to write a love story. It’s totally cliché, but I’m a romantic.

The music doesn’t match the picture, he says. Instead, the photograph created a narrative, and the narrative led to the composition, “Orchard in Fog,” which will premiere on Saturday when Meyers and the San Diego Symphony perform during “Preludes and Premiere,” a Jacobs Masterwork Series concert which will also include “Les Préludes” by Liszt and Symphony No. 5 by Sibelius in E flat major, Op. 82.

“I am naturally drawn to art,” he says. “I like the structures. Growing up, I thought I was going to be an architect. “Orchard in Fog” is a very personal piece, and it is the first time in my life as a composer that I propose to compose something with a very specific structure. “

The work, divided into three movements, “tells the story of an aging man visiting the orchard where he married many years ago. It’s the dead of winter, and he’s now weak and tired, and nearing the end of his life, ”Schoenberg wrote in the“ Preludes and First ”program notes.

The first movement, “Frail,” represents the present, and it’s “very slow and atmospheric and the orchestration is thin,” says Schoenberg. “The violin is on display. It’s much darker and more melancholy – and it’s 11 minutes of slow music.

The second movement, on the other hand, “is five minutes of music faster,” he says of “Dancing.” “It’s a memory – the man remembering his youth and young adulthood. It is a dance movement. … It’s not a club beat, but there is a powerful groove. Like electronic music, every eight bars I add new elements, so it’s very organic – a new color, a new rhythm… you want to feel the energy constantly moving forward.

‘Farewell Song,’ the third and final movement, “gradually brings us back to the present day and to the orchard where the old man’s journey first began,” Schoenberg explains in the program notes.

“We’re basically going back six minutes to where we started,” he says. “Structurally, it’s 22 minutes – 360 bars. So we have come full circle. “

“This is his farewell song to his love and the life he has known. Now is the time for him to leave it all behind and head into the unknown.… As (the first movement) had a darker tone, this move gives us a glimmer of hope and acceptance.

“Orchard in Fog” – the first world premiere of new music by the San Diego Symphony since the December 2014 performance of David Bruce’s “Fragile Light” violin concerto – has come a long way since that first conversation with Meyers in 2016. He started working on it in earnest early last year, “and then over the summer I started diving more regularly,” says Schoenberg. “I conceptualized for six to eight months and took three months to write the concert.”

He’ll hear her play by an orchestra for the first time this week during rehearsals, and Schoenberg says he expects to nitpick here and there, wondering how he can improve the piece. That’s a natural question for Schoenberg, considered by many to be one of America’s best living classical composers – praise he doesn’t take lightly.

“I’m grateful and honored that people are responding to my work,” says Schoenberg, whose 2006 work “Finding Rothko” was performed by the San Diego Symphony two years ago. “I am grateful for the performance opportunities I have had. I am fortunate that, more and more, the public is more and more receptive to new types of works, because for so long there was this disconnection.

Not anymore.

San Diego Symphony presents “Préludes et Première”

With: Sameer Patel, conductor; Anne Akiko Meyers, violin

When: 8 p.m. Saturday February 10; 2 p.m. Sunday 11 February

Or: Copley Symphony Hall at Jacobs Music Center, 750 B St., downtown

Tickets: $ 20 to $ 98

Telephone: (619) 235-0804

In line: sandiegosymphony.org

Violinist Anne Akiko Meyers asked composer Adam Schoenberg to create a concerto in 2016, and the result – “Orchard in Fog” – makes its world premiere this weekend in San Diego.

(Courtesy photo by Josep Molina)

Twitter: @outdoorlivingsd

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