Itaipú by Philip Glass
Deep Field by Eric Whitacre
This concert will take place on Sunday, March 3, 2019 at 3pm at Duke University’s Baldwin Auditorium and will feature the Choral Society of Durham, the Duke University Chorale, and the Durham Medical Orchestra.
Philip Glass, Itaipú, was commissioned anonymously for the Atlanta Symphony Orchestra and premiered November 2, 1989 by the Atlanta Symphony Orchestra and Chorus conducted by Robert Shaw. It calls for an SATB choir and orchestra. It runs about 38 minutes.
According to notes from the publisher, Dunvagen Music Publishers, it is a “Symphonic portrait in four movements: Mato Grosso – The Lake – The Dam – To the Sea.” The text is the Creation Myth of the Guarani (sung in traditional Guarani). Online reference, brittanica.com says that “the Guarani are a South American Indian group living mainly in Paraguay and speaking a language also called Guarani. Smaller groups also live in Argentina, Bolivia and Brazil.” Nick Jones notes on the publisher’s web page that “[L]ike The Light and The Canyon, Itaipu originated as Glass’ response both to nature and to a modern technological wonder, in this case the massive hydro-electric dam (…) that was then taking shape at Itaipu on the Parana River, which forms the border between Brazil and Peru. (…)While the music itself hymns the wonder wrought by nature and by humankind, the exotic text recounts the creation of the world, the actions of the gods and how the first people came to this place.”
Deep Field was composed by Eric Whitacre in 2015 on a joint commission of the Minnesota Orchestra BBC Radio 3 and the Dallas Winds. It is scored for SATB choir and orchestra and runs about 20 minutes. Its World premiere took place May 8, 2015 at Orchestra Hall, Minneapolis, MN by the Minnesota Orchestra and Chorale and was conducted by the composer. The European premier was August 9, 2015 at the BBC Proms, Royal Albert Hall, London, by the Royal Philharmonic Orchestra, BBC Symphony Chorus and BBC Singers. It was conducted by the composer.
The composer’s web site says that the piece was “inspired by the iconic Hubble Field Deep Field images.” The work was originally written for orchestra, chorus & electronica and later transcribed for concert band. The site goes on to explain that the “Hubble Deep Field” captured by the Hubble Space Telescope in 1995 is an “image that covers a speck of the sky only about the width of a dime seen from 75 feet away. The exposure lasted 10 consecutive days, or approximately 150 orbits. Though the field is a very small sample of the heavens, it is considered representative of the typical distribution of galaxies in space, because the universe, statistically, looks largely the same in all directions. Gazing into this small field, Hubble uncovered a bewildering assortment of at least 1,500 galaxies at various stages of evolution.”
A Performance Note on the score says, “A smart-phone App playing the Deep Field electronica may be triggered by audience members from bar 217 to the end of the piece, as cued by the conductor. This should be downloaded in advance of the performance and is available via the App Store and Google Play. Search “Deep Field” in the respective store to locate the App and download.”