The Butler University Symphony Orchestra will perform the world premiere of an orchestral commission by renowned composer Akira Kobayashi next week. The concert is part of the inauguration celebration for new Butler University President Jim Danko.
The piece, entitled “Astraea,” was written specifically for the BSO and accompanies the “Fire of Desire” art symposium at the Jordan College of Fine Arts, which features Kobayashi and other scholars from Japan, Buffalo, N.Y., Cincinnati, and Butler.
Astraea is a star-maiden, and goddess of justice in Greek mythology. Kobayashi said the piece comes from his enjoyment of watching twinkling stars in the clear night sky and his belief that stars bring good luck.
Kobayashi teaches music composition and theory at the Aichi Prefectural University of Fine Arts and Music in Nagoya, Japan. The school is described as the Juilliard School of Japan by Butler music professors.
Sophomore oboe performance major and BSO member Jessica Robinson said “Astraea” is an atonal piece centered around unison rhythmic motives against a backdrop of other musical material, which produced an interesting texture.
“It’s disjointed, but there’s also unity,” she said.
Robinson also said this material is punctuated by sudden and startling “empty measures,” or short, complete silences by the whole ensemble.
“In this piece, I tried to produce colorful sounds and focused on contrast,” Kobayashi said. “This piece starts with a short, quiet part, followed by a violent section. Alternating between static and dynamic moments, the piece gains momentum, developing in intensity and excitement before reaching a tense climax.”
Kobayashi said the piece ends with a return to the quiet section.
Junior string bass performance major Brianna Nielsen said she is excited to meet Kobayashi, who is attending the BSO’s final rehearsals and performance.
“I’m interested to know if there are any cultural elements [of the music] that he can explain that we might have missed,” Nielsen said.
Along with “Astraea,” the Butler Symphony Orchestra is performing Edward Elgar’s “Cello Concerto,” with soloist Marianne Roszyk, and Pyotr Tchaikovsky’s Symphony No. 4 in F Minor.
Kobayashi’s work is also the centerpiece of a concert by the JCFA’s Composers Orchestra on Thursday, Nov. 10 at 8 p.m. in Eidson-Duckwall Recital Hall. This concert will feature Kobayashi’s solo work, as well as some chamber music written by Butler student composers.
The Fire of Desire symposium offers events all week to Butler students, faculty and community members, with lectures including “Counterfeit Van Gogh,” “New Music for Guitar” and “Tonality as the Object-Cause of Desire.”
The concert will take place on Sunday, Nov. 13 at 3 p.m. in Clowes Memorial Hall.