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Press Release:

MEDIA CONTACT: Polly Burks

561-297-2595, pburks@fau.edu

FAU Music Ensembles Present World Premiere Performance of Libby Larsen’s Encircling Skies


            BOCA RATON, FL (September 22, 2009) –
Florida Atlantic University’s department of music has the unique honor to present the world premiere performance of Encircling Skies, the latest composition by the internationally acclaimed American composer, Libby Larsen

(b. 1950).  This unprecedented event will take place on Saturday, October 10, 2009 at 7:30 p.m. in the University Theatre on FAU’s Boca Raton campus.  Admission is free with a suggested donation of $10.      

The concert will be performed by the FAU Wind Ensemble, the FAU Chamber Singers, and the FAU Symphony Orchestra. Faculty artists Edward Turgeon, Anne Louise-Turgeon, Heather Coltman, Tim Walters and James Cunningham will join the ensembles’ conductors to present this large scale work based on a poem by Paul Dunbar.. The second movement of Encircling Skies includes the world premiere of “The Maenads,” by Colombian-American composer and FAU Assistant Director of Commercial Music, Alejandro Sánchez -Samper.

In Larsen’s words, “…the title Encircling Skies encompasses both infinity and cycle, and is, in fact, a bit of an oxymoron—like the concept of infinity itself.  We humans, each one of us, are finite narratives suspended in infinite being.  Often awkward in ourselves, we pass through infinite human consciousness, contributing our energy to our belief in continuance.  We bring ourselves, our cultures, our languages, our music, our spiritual beliefs, everything that we are to this moment of living—this moment suspended in eternal, infinite time.”

The unique instrumentation and setting of the text was created specifically for the music program at FAU. Libby Larsen, one of the world’s most performed living composers, will also be at the concert and will provide commentary on the work.

            Larsen has written over 200 works that range from intimate vocal art song pieces to massive orchestral scores.  Her work has been described as modern music that is approachable for a broad audience.  The Wall Street Journal wrote that Larsen “has come up with a way to make contemporary opera both musically current and accessible to the average audience.”

            In 1994, Larsen won a Grammy for producing the CD “The Art of Arlene Augér,” which features Larsen’s “Sonnets from the Portuguese,” inspired by Elizabeth Barrett Browning’s famous poem of the same name.  She also wrote the music and libretto for the opera “Frankenstein: The Modern Prometheus,” which was selected as one of the eight best classical musical events of 1990 by USA Today. 

            Larsen is the first woman to serve as a resident composer with a major orchestra.  She has held residencies with the Minnesota Orchestra, the Charlotte Symphony and the Colorado Symphony.

            “Libby Larsen is considered by many to be the most influential composer of the present day,” said Heather Coltman, chair of FAU’s department of music.  “We are very fortunate to have her here. She has a fresh outlook on sound and the impact of new music, and also on ways that performers connect to audiences.”

            Larsen held the Dorothy F. Schmidt Eminent Scholar Chair for 2007/2008.  The chair, endowed by philanthropist Dorothy F. Schmidt, is devoted to bringing outstanding figures in the performing and visual arts to FAU and has been held by such luminaries as dancer Edward Villella, art critics Roberta Smith and Gerry Saltz, Shakespearean actors Estelle Kohler and Bill Homewood, and environmental sculptor and architect Michael Singer. 

            The lecture and concert are being sponsored by the Dorothy F. Schmidt Eminent Scholars Chair and organized by the department of music in the School of the Arts in FAU’s Dorothy F. Schmidt College of Arts and Letters.  For further information on the concert, call 561-297-3820.

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