Saturday, July 2, 2011

Patrick Zimmerli Premiere: Uniquely Funded by the Colorado Music Festival

The first-of-its-kind CLICK! crowdfunded commissioning project, started last year by the adventurous Colorado Music Festival, reached a culmination with the premiere of Patrick Zimmerli's Festival Overture on June 30.

Last summer, CMF solicited votes (at $10 each) for four possible composers. With sufficient funds raised, the tallied votes favored Zimmerli, who then had about 7 months to create the 12-minute orchestral work.

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Patrick Zimmerli (L) and Michael Christie (R) at a pre-concert talk.

In a pre-concert talk, the personable Zimmerli mentioned he found inspiration by studying some classic works, such as Brahms' Tragic Overture, Beethoven's Leonore overtures, Wagner's Tristan, and even Holiday Overture, an early (1944) Elliott Carter work.

Indeed, this Festival Overture started with a three-note motive presented with an energetic, Brahmsian swagger, followed by quieter, more plaintive materials heard in the woodwinds, followed by development of these two ideas. The piece was solidly tonal, readily accessible, and pleased the enthusiastic audience. I suspect the work will be programmed by others down the road.

While I liked the piece, this conservative music perhaps reflected the standard repertoire a little too diligently. An edgier work, touching more on today's contemporary music possibilities, would have engaged me more.

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Patrick Zimmerli (L) and Tom Steenland (R)

Nevertheless, this well-crafted piece clearly fulfilled its purpose and represents a fine start to the CMF's ambitious CLICK! commissioning program, conceived and implemented by the imaginative Music Director Michael Christie.

Also on the program were Gershwin's Rhapsody in Blue (in an unusual presentation with the Marcus Roberts Trio), Copland's Prairie Journal (one of his earliest "American" pieces), and Ansel Adams: America, with music by David and Chris Brubeck accompanying projected slides of classic Adams photos.

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