Title and date to head of page "Prayer Bells - 2001" with dedication below "dedicated with admiration + gratitude to Mariss Jansons + Pittsburgh Symphony."
Notated on two systems consisting of treble and grand staff. First system divided into 10 sections, numbered but not in numerical order. Each is colour-coded to show section groupings and each contains a discrete collection of pitches with coloured circles and/or arrows illustrating connective progression between sections. The lower stave contains more detailed notes for specific sections, minimally notated, with both graphic and written descriptions, for instance "Bar 120 Fanfares [drawing in red and yellow] Hot - Vivid - Everything in Flames." Includes personal note in manuscript "Note to ART: If longer commision I would have added 4 min. of delicate lyric music continuing music of bars 101-113. Add later?"
Very minor wear and abrasions to lower left corner and edges; some creasing, including central fold; small tears repaired with tape repairs. Commissioned and premiered in May 2001 by the Pittsburgh Symphony Orchestra with Mariss Jansons conducting.
"There is an indisputable journey taking place during the 12-minute composition. In general the score falls into a three-part form: a slow growing introduction of 90 seconds (which is a section of music I composed in 1988 as a student and wanted to rework in a more refined manner); a central section of about 5 minutes which is led by the line of music in the cellos, violas and other strings which is often punctuated by brassy flares; and the final section of about 5 minutes which is best described as relentless, sinuous, fanfares which are alternating with other earnest, more expansive materials. The music is passionate throughout as if something big is at stake in it.
The "bells" are not only simply percussion instruments in this work. Rather, the bells are often implied by blended woodwind, brass and string sounds. The title Prayer Bells can mean anything from miniature, intimate prayer bells one would find in a meditation context, to a massive carillon of bells in a cathedral, to metaphorically representing an inner tolling to pray in the human soul." Augusta Read Thomas, from the work's program notes posted on her website.
"The music of Augusta Read Thomas (b. 1964 in New York) is nuanced, majestic, elegant, capricious, lyrical, and colorful - "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 will become the 16th person ever to hold a University Professorship, and the fifth currently at the University. 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, David Robertson, Christoph Eschenbach, 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); Prayer Bells (Pittsburgh Symphony); Bells Ring Summer (La Jolla Chamber Music Society); Galaxy Dances, and Cello Concerto (National Symphony); Violin Concerto (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. In 2007-2008, Thomas was a Visiting Scholar in the Department of Music in the Division of the Humanities at the University of Chicago. 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 has also been on the Board of Directors of the American Music Center since 2000, as well as on the boards and advisory boards of several chamber music groups." augustareadthomas.com/about. (Inventory #: 34960)