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Three Questions Before the First Night, by Carson Cooman

Augusta Read Thomas -- 'Credences of Summer'

Composer Augusta Read Thomas (born 1964) is one of America's most highly regarded and widely performed composers of orchestral music. She has served as composer-in-residence for the Chicago Symphony from 1999-2006, and has created works for most of America's major orchestras. Thomas is currently professor of composition at Northwestern University, after having served as professor at the Eastman School of Music. Noted for her urgent and colorful soundscapes, Thomas's music in all forms continues to receive accolades from performers and audiences alike.

Thomas's latest orchestral work, Credences of Summer will have its world première on 20 May 2005 with the San Diego Symphony Orchestra, under the direction of conductor Jahja Ling, in San Diego, California, USA.

OneCarson Cooman: The title for this new orchestral work comes from a poem by Wallace Stevens. How has Stevens's poetry impacted you as a composer?

Augusta Read Thomas: I've written other pieces based on Wallace Stevens's poetry. First came ... words of the sea ... (1996) for large orchestra. The second piece is called Light the First Light of Evening (2002). Now the third is Credences of Summer (2004) for orchestra. After finishing Credences of Summer, I wrote a piece called Final Soliloquy of the Interior Paramour which actually sets two Stevens poems. The other three pieces do not actually set texts -- they are simply inspired by the poetry.

The three movements of Credences of Summer each have titles taken from images in Steven's poems: 'Trace the gold sun about the whitened sky', 'Pure rhetoric of a language without words', and 'A mountain luminous halfway in bloom.'

TwoCC: I know that you often write interconnected musical works -- works that share their musical material and inspirations. You've commented how this allows you to explore every potential from each musical idea you conceive. How does Credences of Summer connect to some of your other recent compositions?

ART: Actually, this is particular piece is all brand new material.

ThreeCC: How has your term as composer-in-residence with the Chicago Symphony -- being involved on that active a level with one of the world's finest orchestras -- affected your orchestral music in general and the works that you have written for other orchestras?

ART: Working with the Chicago Symphony as their composer-in-residence from 1997 through 2006 has been one of the best things that has ever happened in my entire life. I have attended a rehearsal and a concert for every subscription series event across all the years. Thus, I've listened to all the repertoire played by a greatest orchestra. It's a major-league education. I've also had the chance to watch how different conductors conduct and in what ways they rehearse both new music and old music. As a part of my composer-in-residence job, I also get sent huge number of scores by living composers. So, I also gained a great knowledge of music of the 21st and late 20th centuries by seeing all of these scores.

I am madly in love with composing for orchestra and hope to die writing an orchestral piece! It is a joy to compose for any great orchestra!

Copyright © 3 May 2005 Carson P Cooman, Rochester, NY, USA






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