~ By Lisa Maria Boyles, communications specialist for the College of Arts and Humanities
Fresno audiences will have two opportunities to hear music by Department of Music composition Professor Dr. Kenneth Froelich this month.
The Fresno Philharmonic, conducted by new music director Rei Hotoda, will perform “Spinning Yarns,” the second movement of Froelich’s Symphony No. 1, during their 3 p.m. concert on Sunday, Jan. 28, at the William Saroyan Theatre.
This is the first time the Fresno Philharmonic has performed one of Froelich’s compositions.
“I’m really honored to be a part of this concert,” Froelich said. “The Fresno Philharmonic decided last summer that they wanted to program a piece of mine, and going through my catalogue, they selected the second movement of my symphony as a concert opener. It was always designed as a piece that could be pulled out from the whole work and stand on its own. … I think it’s a really good thing to see the Philharmonic performing more contemporary works and performing the works of local composers.”
The Fresno State Orchestra premiered the full Symphony No. 1 in 2013, and in 2015 Cornell University performed the full composition. The Jan. 28 Philharmonic performance of “Spinning Yarns” will be the first professional performance of the piece.
“The title of ‘Spinning Yarns’ references the idea of telling a story,” Froelich said. “All three movements within the symphony deal with this idea of conversation and dialogue.
“It also comes from the musical idea of ‘trading fours,’ from jazz tradition, this idea that one player plays four bars and then another player plays four bars, usually interspersed with the drums. And so they alternate back and forth, in this kind of dialogue-conversational style. So I was imagining in the orchestra that you have that same kind of approach. You have the percussion lead it off, and then other sections play a section and then the percussion responds and they go back and forth as if they’re all telling different stories to each other.”
Froelich’s “Jefferson Rising” is on the program for the Department of Music Faculty Gala Concert, 8 p.m. Saturday, Jan. 20, in the Fresno State Concert Hall. (Read more here.) Froelich said he wrote the piece many years ago, as an overture for an opera he envisioned about the state of Jefferson.
The idea is based on an actual conflict that took place in California’s history, a secession movement in which northern California and southern Oregon wanted to break away and form their own state called Jefferson.
Froelich is now working on completing the full opera about Jefferson, with the plan to debut it later this year, performed by the Fresno State Opera Theatre program.
“This feels like a really good, busy time right now, ” Froelich said, “with these two performances this month and a few other premieres that are in line right now” over the next few months.