East Meets West in West Michigan Symphony Season Opener

Muskegon, Michigan, Sept. 1, 2015, — Friday, Oct. 2, West Michigan Symphony begins its 2015-16 concert season with a concert titled East Meets West, at Muskegon’s Frauenthal Theater.

West Michigan Symphony and Music Director Scott Speck unite music from three continents beginning with American composer Austin Wintory, then welcoming Chinese music to Muskegon with pipa virtuoso Wu Man, and closing with the exciting Second Symphony by Russian composer Sergei Rachmaninoff.

When asked how all these musical pieces fit together, Music Director Scott Speck commented “Our opening concert is an overview of a whole world of music embodied in the 2015-16 season.”

Speck continued, “The concert starts with music of the future by the extremely talented living composer Austin Wintory, who has found success not only in the concert hall, but in music for movies and video games. Then moves to the other side of the world with music played by an instrument, the pipa, that sounds exotic to most Western ears, written by a composer whose beautiful melodies rarely make it over to this hemisphere. We close with one of the great masterpieces of musical expression, the sumptuous Symphony no. 2 of Rachmaninoff.”

The first pieces of the evening titled “Nascence” and “Apotheosis” from Grammy-nominated American composer Austin Wintory were scored for the PlayStation 3 video game “Journey.” The pieces won numerous awards and became the first ever video game score to be nominated for a Grammy. Wintory’s compositions capture the wonderfully artistic nature of “Journey,” adding emotion to the incredible environments and landscapes players pass through while experiencing the game.

Then the Symphony welcomes Chinese pipa virtuoso Wu Man, playing a brand new musical composition by Zhou Jiping titled Concerto no. 2, commissioned in part by the West Michigan Symphony. Wu Man is the one of the world’s leading pipa artists. With a two thousand year history in China, Wu Man stresses that the Chinese pipa instrument still has a place in modern music. Her belief is backed by two Grammy nominations for her performances.

The orchestra’s final piece is the hauntingly beautiful Symphony no. 2 by Russian composer Sergei Rachmaninoff. After a disastrous premiere of his Symphony no.1, Rachmaninoff suffered years of writer’s block, which was finally broken through the services of a hypnotherapist. Rachmaninoff then composed his enormously popular Second Piano Concerto but still wanted to prove he could write a successful Symphony. His Second Symphony, which premiered in 1908, turned out to be a spectacular success.

The Friday, Oct. 2, concert starts at 7:30 p.m. at the Frauenthal Center for the Performing Arts in downtown Muskegon. Ticket prices are $20 to $49; student tickets are $7 and can be purchased by calling the WMS ticket office at 231.726.3231 ext. 223, in person at 360 W. Western Avenue or online at westmichigansymphony.org.

Michigan Arts & Culture Council
National Endowment for the Arts