The Omaha Symphony has performed numerous world premieres. One of them returns. Voices by 35-year old American Clint Needham evocatively merges the Orchestra with the Hawthorne String Quartet to call forth something close to the existence of those four string players. The piece is a memorial to the artists who perished at Terezín during the Holocaust and was commissioned by the Terezín Music Foundation and the Institute for Holocaust Education, The Hawthorne specializes in music written by composers interned at that infamous concentration camp. Needham’s title is spurred by his feelings of being haunted by the voices of those who died at the hands of the Nazis. “Their artistic perseverance in the face of unimaginable persecution is at the heart of this piece,” he says.
But there is joy elsewhere in this concert with American composer Peter Boyer’s percussive, folk-music-like New Beginnings written in 2000. Grammy nominee Boyer writes much concert, film and TV music, including scores for The History Channel and orchestrates film composers’ scores for every major movie production company you can name.
The Hawthorns are heard twice. Their sonorities mingle with something else suggesting folk music, Sir Edward Elgar’s Introduction and Allegro from 1905. The 48 year old English master weaves his wonders around an echoing song he heard from afar during a holiday in Wales into something many people find beautiful. The strings of the Orchestra resonate in this as well.
Also, in a happy frame of mind, Music Director Thomas Wilkins offers an immersion into Brahms’ Third Symphony, often spoken of as the composer’s most lyrical. Indeed, only slightly older than Elgar at the time, on his manuscript, the 51 year-old German bachelor declared himself Frei aber froh, “free but happy.” This F–A–F motto, with variations, can be heard throughout.
Here, something new and admirable crosses the path of 130 years to embrace the beloved.
This Omaha Symphony Concert is Sept. 18 & 19. Kiewit Hall, Holland Center, 1200 Douglas St.Fri. & Sat. 7:30 p.m. Tickets: $19-$70. www.omahasymphony.org