Jeffrey Biegel

Jeffrey Biegel

POCATELLO — The Idaho State-Civic Symphony is thrilled to announce the world premiere of “Shadows for Piano and Seven Players,” composed by the acclaimed Ellen Taaffe Zwilich and performed by celebrated pianist, Jeffrey Biegel.

The event marks the return to live performances by ISCS as the opening concert of the 2021-22 season, “New Beginnings,” on Sept. 25 in the Jensen Grand Concert Hall at the Stephens Performing Arts Center in Pocatello. Plans for the performance to be livestreamed around the globe for those unable to attend the concert in person are in the works.

Biegel organized the initial commissioning of “Shadows for Piano and Orchestra,” which had its world premiere on Oct. 29, 2011, with the Louisiana Philharmonic Orchestra, conducted by Music Director Carlos Miguel Prieto, conductor leading a consortium of several orchestras in the commissioning project. Due to the events of COVID-19 in 2020, Zwilich decided to take several original works and arrange them for smaller ensembles. Hence, this marks the premiere for the new version of “Shadows” featuring a piano soloist and seven players on stage.

Zwilich is one of the most respected and inspiring composers of American contemporary music. Zwilich holds a doctorate from The Juilliard School and has received the Pulitzer Prize in music (the first female composer to receive this award) and four Grammy nominations. Zwilich has been elected to the American Classical Music Hall of Fame and currently holds the Krafft Distinguished Professorship at Florida State University.

Biegel has become widely respected for his performances and recordings of traditional repertoire and for commissioning a dozen composers to write new works for piano and orchestra, and for piano, orchestra and chorus. One such work, Kenneth Fuchs’s “Piano Concerto: Spiritualist,” was commissioned by several orchestras and recorded with the London Symphony Orchestra with Maestra JoAnn Falletta conducting the Naxos recording. The recording garnered a Grammy win in 2019 for best classical compendium.

Biegel also created and performed the first classical video live-stream recitals in New York’s Steinway Hall and in Amsterdam in 1997 and 1998 respectively. Two weeks following the September performance of “Shadows” with the Idaho State-Civic Symphony, he will perform the world premiere of Zwilich’s tribute work to the late Supreme Court Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg, featuring mezzo-soprano Denyce Graves joining Biegel, along with the premiere of his own Reflection of Justice: An Ode to Ruth Bader Ginsburg (orchestrations by Harrison Sheckler), both with the Dallas Symphony Orchestra.

Scheduled to perform with ISCS as guest artist in September 2020, Biegel’s performance was postponed due to COVID-19. As talks resumed and ISCS season performance plans were taking shape this past spring, the serendipitous seed was planted by Biegel of having the world premiere of “Shadows for Piano and Seven Players” take place in Pocatello. “Shadows for Piano and Seven Players” was arranged during the spring of 2021.

Zwilich shares this: “‘Shadows’ is a work evoking the recollection of remnants of the past — the recalling of ancestral, religious and cultural roots in the constant migration of people around the world. Although ‘Shadows’ has something of a program, I see it as truly belonging to the listener, who will respond and understand it in relation to his or her own emotional and experiential background. The work is in three movements, the first of mixed tempo, the second slow and the third fast. While the work features the virtuoso pianist, the instruments of the orchestra play a prominent role in the ongoing dialogue with the piano. I was moved by the wide range of co-commissioners and by the unflagging energy of Jeffrey Biegel, to whom it is dedicated.”

The Idaho State-Civic Symphony is the oldest orchestra in Idaho, established by the Southern Branch of the University of Idaho, which is now Idaho State University. Today, the symphony is composed of ISU music students, ISU music faculty and community musicians.

For more information, email symphony@isu.edu or visit www.thesymphony.us.