Michigan’s University Symphony Band, under the direction of conductor Michael Haithcock, has released a new CD featuring works that were performed on the 2011 China Tour.
Titled Artifacts, the album features compositions by SMTD faculty Bright Sheng, Michael Daugherty and Kristin Kuster; Professor Emeritus William Bolcom; and SMTD alumnus Joel Puckett. The featured soloists are violinist and SMTD alumnus Xiang Gao and flutist and SMTD faculty member Amy Porter. Also featured is the Donald Sinta Saxophone Quartet comprised of student musicians Daniel Hawthorne-Foss, baritone sax; Joseph Girard, tenor sax; Dan Graser, soprano sax; and Zach Stern, alto sax.
The Symphony Band, which has been praised for its “breathtaking precision” as well as its “detailed, polished and expressive phrasing,” performs the premiere recordings of the six compositions on Artifacts. They include Bright Sheng’s Shanghai Overture(originally composed for a symphony orchestra in 2007), which merges east and west as it is inspired by both neo-classism and two well-known traditional Chinese compositions; The Shadow of Sirius, by Joel Puckett (MM ’01, DMA ’04), a flute concerto featuring Amy Porter which was inspired by W.S. Merwin’s book of poems by the same name dealing with childhood, memory, death and wisdom; Michael Daugherty’s Lost Vegas, a musical homage to the bygone days of “Sin City’s” famous “strip,” when it was new, adventurous and vibrant; Two Jades, by Kristin Kuster, featuring violinist Xiang Gao in a three-movement work inspired by jade objects that date back to the Stone Age; Graceful Ghost Rag by William Bolcom, originally composed for piano, with the band version meant to evoke a pit band from the ragtime era; and Bolcom’s Concerto Grosso for Saxophone Quartet and Band, which emphasizes the group identity of the four soloists.
The two-disc CD, recorded at Hill Auditorium on the Equilibrium label, also includes interviews with each of the composers. It is available for purchase on the Equilibrium website, Amazon.com and other retail sites, and can also be purchased as MP3 downloads on iTunes and other music websites.