Thursday, January 14, 2010

'Sea Orpheus' premieres

The Jan. 29 concert by the Orpheus Chamber Orchestra and pianist Angela Hewitt at the University of Richmond will feature the premiere of Peter Maxwell Davies' "Sea Orpheus." This final installment of the orchestra's New Brandenburg Project is a contemporary companion piece to Bach's "Brandenburg" Concerto No. 5, with similar orchestration and, as in the Bach, prominent roles for flute, violin and piano.

"Sea Orpheus" was inspired by the poems of George Mackay Brown. ""There are three movements, played without a break, all based on a Gregorian chant, 'Tantum Ergo Sacramentum', which is subject to constant transformation processes, and is present throughout in some form," the composer says. "This is the first time I have attempted to write a strictly neoclassical work, and, as well as from the 'Brandenburg' Concerto, I have borrowed techniques from Bach's 'Musical Offering' and 'The Art of the Fugue.' "

Maxwell Davies is known for works rooted in English and Scottish history and lore, notably "Eight Songs for a Mad King" and "An Orkney Wedding, with Sunrise." Since 2004 he has been Master of the Queen's Music.

"Sea Orpheus" will receive further performances on the Orpheus-Hewitt tour in North Carolina, Georgia, Pennsylvania and New York, culminating in a Feb. 6 concert at Carnegie Hall.

Orpheus and Hewitt will perform at 7:30 p.m. Jan. 29 in Camp Concert Hall of UR's Modlin Arts Center. For ticket information, call (804) 289-8980 or visit