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Here Be Dragons
Fans of the Orange County Symphony have a double treat in store at the next concert on April 10th. Not only will they surely shiver in their seats at the powerful Symphony No. 5 by Beethoven. But they will also be immersed in a concert World Premiere of Leviathan of the Ancient Deep, by Sarah Wallin Huff.
Two things you ought to know about Sarah (left). First, she is a southern Californian girl. Maybe girl is too lighteahrted. Having received her MA in Music Composition at Claremont Graduate University in 2008, from 2012-2016 Sarah was the Professor of Composition and Advanced Theory at The Master’s College in Santa Clarita. Sarah’s compositions have been performed throughout the States and abroad, including the Zipper Hall in Los Angeles and at the Exeter Phoenix Auditorium in Devon, England. And that’s only a snippet of her achievements.
Secondly, she composed Leviathan to play on a six-stringed GLASS violin! Now glass violins are a wonder to behold. Why do they not shatter? I remember British prodigy Nigel Kennedy playing the Four Seasons on a glass violin many years ago. It was spectacular. Google “glass violin” images and you will discover a wide variety of such instruments. But I have yet to find a SIX-stringed version. I guess it was specially made for our adventurous composer.
The electrical instrumentation and percussion of the piece will surely meld into a tone poem that will evoke the stirring of an ancient monster from the deep. Sailors have met their doom with such monsters wrapping their scaly bodies round wooden barques. Heroes from the distant past have risked life and limb to enter the fray with such beasts - whose evolutionary descendants may yet live in Loch Ness. This is time to abandon disbelief and join those ancient warriors in their musical quest.
Some background. The word “Leviathan” comes from the Hebrew word meaning “one who twists and coils,” or “the winding one”. This musical work is a depiction of the ancient Dragon of the Sea mentioned in the Bible and other rabbinic texts. Taking its cue from the description of this awesome Creature of imagination, this concerto features the virtuosic properties of the six-string electric violin with its immense range, while the various and creative sounds available to the synthesizer and electric wind instrument (EWI) enhance the beauty of the acoustic orchestra. The percussion is meant to stand apart as an entity unto itself, to evoke an air of tribal antiquity with sounds reminiscent of Japanese taiko and Middle Eastern drumming practices.
The three movements of this concerto tell a story of warriors setting sail upon the seas to find this ancient creature, Leviathan, for themselves…
I. Seekers of the Legend: “There go the ships: [there] is that Leviathan, [whom] thou hast made to play therein.”
II. Sighting: “Canst thou draw out Leviathan with an hook?... None is so fierce that dare stir him up... Upon earth there is not his like, who is made without fear... He is a king over all the children of pride.”
III. The Hunt: “In that day the LORD with his sore and great and strong sword shall punish Leviathan...that crooked serpent; and he shall slay the dragon that [is] in the sea.”
All right! I’m hooked already. See you there.
Anaheim First Christian Church
520 W. South Street, Anaheim, CA 9205