Award-winning composer and Fresno State professor Dr. Benjamin Boone will debut his drought-themed orchestral composition “Water(less) Music” at 4 p.m. Sunday, May 24, in the Saroyan Theatre (700 M Street) in downtown Fresno. The composition, which will be performed as part of the Youth Orchestra of Fresno’s “Water, Water, Everywhere” concert, features recordings of the late, former U.S. Poet Laureate and Fresno State Emeritus Professor of English Philip Levine reciting from his iconic works.
Dr. Thomas Loewenheim, musical director of the Youth Orchestra of Fresno and the Fresno State Symphony Orchestra, will conduct the orchestra. Following the Sunday debut, Boone’s composition will be performed on June 26 at Disney Hall in Los Angeles and June 28 on the Fresno State campus.
Boone said he was working on a piece about water and its relationship to life when the news came that the Pulitzer Prize winning poet had died in February at age 87. “Phillip Levine’s passing was a personal loss,” Boone said. “I, along with several other musicians, had been collaborating with him on a CD called ‘The Poetry of Jazz – The Jazz of Poetry.’”
In reflecting on Levine’s works, Boone noted that water, rain and dryness were frequently used metaphors. Inspired by recordings Levine made of his poems, Boone excerpted phrases to create a narration track and composed the orchestral music around the narrative.
“The story goes from the beginning of earth’s existence, to water, to rain, to dark clouds, to a violent storm, to environmental collapse, to fallow land and infertility and finally to a complete lack of water,” Boone said. “At this moment in California’s history, we cannot consider water without also considering the lack of water we are experiencing.”
Loewenheim describes Boone’s piece as “a work that is grasping the depth and anguish of the potential of having no water.”
In addition to Boone’s original composition, the May 24 concert will also feature Handel’s “Water Music,” Bernstein’s music for the movie “On the Waterfront”, Debussy’s “La Mer” and “Pirates of the Caribbean” by Badelt. The Youth Orchestra of Fresno features musicians ages 6-19 from counties throughout the Central Valley.
The concert is free to the public, though a donation at the door ($15 suggested for adults) is appreciated.
For more information, or to reserve premium seating, visit www.youthorchestrasfresno.org, email firstname.lastname@example.org or call 559.275.6694.