Coming to Terms with Whitacre’s “Deep Field”

I just got back from the Minnesota Orchestra-Minnesota Chorale concert led by Eric Whitacre—a concert that featured a slate of new works by American composers, which concluded with the world premiere of Whitacre’s Deep Field for chorus, orchestra… and app. If time permits, I might post reflections of the concert as a whole, but while it’s still fresh in my mind I wanted to share a few thoughts about Deep Field. Continue reading

Upcoming Eric Whitacre: Deep Field, Godzilla, and More

I experienced a profound, deeply moving moment at rehearsal last night.

We in the Minnesota Chorale are preparing for a big concert week with the Minnesota Orchestra, conducted by choral music superstar Eric Whitacre. As part of the program, we’re giving the world premiere of Eric Whitacre’s new work, Deep Field. This piece was inspired by the “deep field” photo taken by the Hubble Telescope—a photo created when NASA trained the telescope on what was previously thought to be an empty area of the night sky, and left the recorders running for several days. The resulting photo was remarkable; the sky wasn’t empty, but filled with nearly 3,000 celestial objects. It wasn’t just a picture of stars being born, but whole galaxies being born, moving across the universe, and colliding. There were sweeping nebulae that spanned incomprehensible distances. Cosmic life, cosmic death that stretched back nearly to the moment of creation. “Emptiness” was revealed to be fullness.

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Through his new composition, Eric has tried to capture this incomprehensible cosmic glory in sound. The music slides slowly and gently into focus, as if the human mind isn’t able to take it all in at once. The shimmering, otherworldliness of the vocal part is gorgeous, and I think most of us were profoundly moved by the experience of preparing this new work.

But then…. Continue reading

Something to Celebrate

Long-time readers know my penchant for writing about Minnesota Orchestra concerts—not exactly reviews, but commentaries that discuss on the entire concert experience, along with a few larger points about what the concerts mean. I had planned to do so again for the Eric Whitacre concerts, but my plans were almost derailed this week by a news story that broke just a few hours before concert time on Friday night… this year’s Symphony Ball was going to be cancelled. Continue reading