Conner Gray Covington

Conner Gray Covington

POCATELLO — Nearly 18 months has passed since a full orchestra and full audience graced the Jensen Grand Concert Hall, and the Idaho State-Civic Symphony will return to both for the first concert of its 2021-2022 “New Beginnings” season on Sept. 25 at 7:30 p.m., according to Ron Bolinger, president of the board of directors. Tickets are currently on sale at the Stephens Performance Arts Center Box Office, 208-282-3595.

Bolinger noted that the season’s first concert is aptly named “From the Shadows” and features the world premiere of renowned composer Ellen Taaffe Zwilich’s “Shadows (for Piano and Seven Players),” a revisioning during the pandemic in 2020 of her earlier 2011 “Shadows” for piano and full orchestra. The revisioned ensemble version will be performed by acclaimed pianist, Jeffrey Biegel, who organized the initial commissioning of “Shadows” and to whom Zwilich dedicated the 2011 piece.

Scheduled to perform with ISCS in the pre-COVID planning for 2020-2021, Mr. Biegel’s performance was postponed when the season became virtual only. As talks resumed and plans were taking shape for the current season, the serendipitous seed was planted by Biegel of having the world premiere of the new ensemble version take place in Pocatello. Bolinger noted that the symphony is extremely appreciative of the role that former conductor, Julie Sorensen, played in engaging Jeffrey Biegel and securing this world premiere performance by him for the current season.

Completing the September concert, under the baton of guest conductor Conner Gray Covington, associate conductor of the Utah Symphony, will be “Symphony No. 5” by Russian composer, Dimitri Shostakovich, and contemporary composer Emily Cooley’s “Argo.”

Ellen Taaffe Zwilich is one of the most respected and inspiring composers of American contemporary music. She 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.

She 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. I was moved by the wide range of co-commissioners and by the unflagging energy of Jeffrey Biegel, to whom it is dedicated.”

Jeffrey 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. Mr. Biegel also created and performed the first classical video livestream recitals in New York’s Steinway Hall and in Amsterdam in 1997 and 1998, respectively.

Two weeks following the upcoming performance of “Shadows (for Piano and Seven Players)” with the Idaho State-Civic Symphony, Mr. Biegel 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 Mr. 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.

Upcoming concerts during the fall semester will be October’s “Awakening” with guest artist J. Curtis Thompson, guitar, and December’s “Joy to the World” featuring Handel’s “Messiah.” Joining Conner Gray Covington as guest conductors will be Jennifer Drake of Boise and Scott Anderson, professor of music at ISU, as the season progresses.

“The Idaho State-Civic Symphony is a unique collaboration with ISU, consisting of talented volunteer community members, ISU music faculty and ISU music students,” Bolinger said. “The Pocatello, ISU and surrounding-area communities are extremely fortunate to have our wonderful orchestra performing in a world-class venue like the Jensen Grand Concert Hall.”

The September performance also will be livestreamed. As per ISU guidelines, masks will be required for both orchestra and audience. For more details about the concert and season, please contact the Idaho State-Civic Symphony, visit the website at www.thesymphony.us; or email at symphony@isu.edu.

For tickets, please contact the SPAC Box Office, 208-282-3595.