The work is anchored on a horizontal timeline marked with each minute of the piece. Colorful blocks and graphic patterns above the timeline denote changes in instrumentation and musical character. Above the blocks are layers of micro and macro arcs that denote musical sections, each with descriptions such as "Majestic", "Incandescent", and "Whimsical Spritely Playful", etc. Below the timeline specific changes in tempo and dynamics are marked, along with additional explanatory text and duration markings.
5 leaves of autograph sketches plus an additional descriptive leaf "Notes for my meeting with Lynn Harrell @ his home in Santa Monica, CA in 2012."
Each sketch details a specific "arc" of the work, built on horizontal timelines detailing changes of tempo, dynamics, character, and instrumentation. Executed in black ink marking timeline and explanatory text, light blue ink representing the cello, and light pink ink representing the orchestra. With some additional colors noted below. Each initialed "A.R.T." at lower right corner (pp. 1-3, 5) or signed and dated "Augusta Read Thomas (2012)" (p. 4). Each page numbered in pencil to verso.
1 - "Arc #1 Cantabile; Molto Rubato: (4min. + 40 seconds)." 216 x 279 mm; 8.5 x 11."
2 - "Arc #2 Rhapsodic Capricious; Vivacious; (5' 30")." Highlighted in yellow with notes in dark blue ink and pencil. Two small, trimmed blue "post-it" notes to upper right marking sections "not yet composed" and "Many options have been composed. Depends on Form." 216 x 356 mm; 8.5" x 14."
3 - "Arc #3 Elegant; Dreamy; Lyrical, Heartfelt, Longing, Reaching - (4' 45")". With secondary timeline in red ink and yellow highlighting. 216 x 279 mm; 8.5" x 11."
4 - "Arc #4 (8 min)". 216 x 559 mm; 8.5" x 22." 2ff. taped together at verso. With green ink denoting percussion, light pink for cello pizzicato, and yellow for "cello long line." Blue trimmed "post-it" note to upper center noting that light blue ink "= not yet composed." Manuscript title "Cello Concerto #3 Legend of the Phoenix" and photocopied circular phoenix image laid down to verso.
5 - "Over all form: Two Crescendos and timeless middle section." 2ff. 215 x 318 mm; 8.5" x 12/5." Offset and taped together at verso. With red ink showing overall arc above timeline and denoting lengths of the four arcs below.
An attractive visual representation of the final concerto which, when combined with the initial notes and sketches, provides a fascinating view of the compositional process and evolution of the work. Cello Concerto #3 was commissioned by the Boston Symphony Orchestra and composed expressly for cellist Lynn Harrell, who premiered the work on 14 March 2013.
"Although Thomas has said that the image of the phoenix - the mythical bird who died by fire and was reborn from its ashes - suggested itself as a title only after the music was composed, there is nevertheless some pointedly avian music in between the pyrotechnics, not just the usual chirps and twitters, but some charmingly bony, beaky dancing for the soloist with harp, wood blocks and tom-toms. And speaking of tom-toms, it is a small step from evoking fire in high percussion and brass to the fierce rhythms of big-band jazz at its hottest - a step that Thomas most gratifyingly took in this score." David Wright, Boston Classical Review
"The music of Augusta Read Thomas ... is majestic, it is elegant, it is lyrical, it is "boldly considered music that celebrates the sound of the instruments and reaffirms the vitality of orchestral music." Philadelphia Inquirer
"Born in Glen Cove, New York, Thomas was appointed University Professor of Composition at the University of Chicago in 2011. University Professors are selected for internationally recognized eminence in their fields as well as for their potential for high impact across the University. Thomas became the 16th person ever to hold a University Professorship. Additionally, she was the Mead Composer-in-Residence with the Chicago Symphony Orchestra (CSO) from May 1997 through June 2006, a residency that culminated in the premiere of Astral Canticle - one of two finalists for the 2007 Pulitzer Prize in Music. During her residency with the CSO, under the direction of Daniel Barenboim, Thomas not only premiered nine commissioned works, but also founded, along with Cliff Colnot, and curated the MusicNOW series. In addition to Barenboim, Thomas's music has been championed by other leading conductors including Pierre Boulez, Esa-Pekka Salonen, Oliver Knussen, Seiji Ozawa, Mstislav Rostropovich, Leonard Slatkin, Lorin Maazel, David Robertson, Christoph Eschenbach, Ken-David Masur, William Boughton, Vimbayi Kaziboni, Ludovic Morlot, and Xian Zhang. Her music has been commissioned by leading ensembles and organizations around the world including: Love Songs (Chanticleer); Chanting to Paradise (NDR [German Radio] Orchestra); Song in Sorrow (The Cleveland Orchestra); Orbital Beacons, Aurora, In My Sky at Twilight, Ceremonial, Carillon Sky, Words of the Sea, Trainwork, Tangle, and Astral Canticle (Chicago Symphony Orchestra); Gathering Paradies (New York Philharmonic); Sweet Potato Kicks the Sun (Santa Fe Opera in association with San Francisco Opera and 7 other opera houses); Far Past War (The Washington Choral Arts Society); Sun Dance (Indianapolis Symphony); Prayer Bells (Pittsburgh Symphony); Bells Ring Summer (La Jolla Chamber Music Society); Galaxy Dances, and Cello Concerto (National Symphony); Violin Concerto #3 (Radio France and the BBC Orchestra); Helios Choros I (Dallas Symphony); Helios Choros II (London and Boston Symphony Orchestras); Helios Choros III (Orchestre de Paris); Pulsar (BBC); Terpsichore's Dream (Utah Symphony); Canticle Weaving (Los Angeles Philharmonic); and Cantos for Slava (ASCAP Foundation).
From 1993 to 2001, Thomas was an assistant professor, then associate professor of composition at the Eastman School of Music, and from 2001 until 2006 she was the Wyatt Professor of Music at Northwestern University. She taught for many years at the Tanglewood Music Festival and at the Aspen Music Festival. Frequently, Thomas undertakes short-term residencies in colleges, universities, and festivals across the United States and in Europe.
Thomas studied composition with Jacob Druckman at Yale University, with Alan Stout and Bill Karlins at Northwestern University, and at the Royal Academy of Music in London. She was a Junior Fellow in the Society of Fellows at Harvard University (1991-94) and a Bunting Fellow at Radcliffe College (1990-91), and often teaches composition at Tanglewood. Thomas is Vice President for Music, The American Academy of Arts and Letters; member of the Board of Directors of The Aaron Copland Fund for Music, Inc.; member of the Board of Directors of the Koussevitzky Foundation; member of the Board of Directors of the Alice M. Ditson Fund at Columbia University; and member of the Conseil Musical de la Foundation Prince Pierre de Monaco.
She was on the Board of Directors of the American Music Center for 11 years from 2000 to 2011; Chair of the Board of the American Music Center, a volunteer position, from 2005 to 2008; on the board of the ICE (International Contemporary Ensemble) for many years; on the boards of several chamber music groups; and was Director of the Festival of Contemporary Music at Tanglewood in 2009.
In 2013, Nimbus Records embarked on a project to record her complete works and has released 8 CDs to date; 89 CDs containing her music have been released by commercial record companies.
Thomas is a member of both the American Academy of Arts and Letters and the American Academy of Arts and Sciences." The composer's website. (Inventory #: 34937)