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SOLI Chamber Ensemble opens season with world premiere

BenjaminHorne_composer_file2022.jpg
Courtesy photo
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Benjamin Horne, composer.

SOLI Chamber Ensemble's 29th season opens on Monday, September 26 at the San Antonio Botanical Garden, featuring a world premiere work by composer Benjamin Horne.

Clarinetist Stephanie Key, and Horne, joined TPR's Barry Brake to preview the concert on Classical Connections. A transcript of their conversation is below.

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Barry Brake Yeah, good afternoon. And so we've got a thing, it's called "Rooted." That's the title of the concert. Sounds interesting! It's at the Botanical Gardens. Tell me all about it.

Stephanie Key So actually the title was connecting with this wonderful show that's going on, this exhibit that's going on right now at the [San Antonio] Botanical Garden. We wanted to connect this fabulous exhibit with the music that we're presenting, this large scale sculpture by Steve Tobin, and it's fantastic. It's really beautiful. If you haven't been yet, then here's your excuse to go hear your concert and be able to take in the gardens in the evening. The concert really came together with pieces that root us right now to where we are in our time. And we have a piece by Andrew Rodriguez that's a piece he wrote several years ago about an oil spill in Santa Barbara. Chris Vu, a New England-based composer called "Holy Mess," which is just kind of the cacophony of life, and the way he's processing everything that's going on right now. And another piece called "R.I.P. 2020," which relates very much to our time, obviously, of looking at the wildfires in Australia and the Breonna Taylor and George Floyd situations and so many different topics right now. And of course the COVID going on during 2020 and so, you know that bind us, grind us into this time and root us to our time. Also out of that rooting comes hope, comes the future of what's to come and growth from that. So the concert is going to feature the real gemstone of this whole program will be Benjamin Horne's premiere-- it's the world premiere-- there are five ensembles across the country that we've joined with to collaborate in bringing the Cross Country Chamber Consortium together. We invited composers from across the country to submit entries and Benjamin's... We all really resonated with the piece that he presented, and then we commissioned him to write a new work for SOLI's instrumentation, which is violin, clarinet, cello and piano. So we are thrilled to be presenting it and thrilled to have him join us in San Antonio for the premiere.

Barry Brake That is Monday, September 26, 2002. That's at 7:00 PM. It's at the San Antonio Botanical Garden. And all the information that you might need is at SOLIChamberEnsemble.com. Let's listen to some more of the SOLI Chamber Ensemble right now with this piece entitled "Troică" by Marc Mellits.

[MUSIC SELECTION]

Barry Brake Classical music on KPAC by the composer Mark Mellits, that fascinating piece was entitled "Troică." It's SOLI Chamber Ensemble featuring D.J. Sparr, the guitarist that was part of their concert that was entitled Electrified Air. They're doing a concert this coming Monday, September 26th, 7:00 PM at the Botanical Garden, and they're doing of music by the composer, among other composers, during the piece by Benjamin Horne. Benjamin, can you tell us a little bit about what we're going to hear?

Benjamin Horne Yeah, the piece that SOLI will be premiering is titled "I Remember You." It comes from an experience that a lot of people may be able to relate to, of sort of your, quote unquote, long goodbye. People that may be or may be loved ones that are suffering from memory loss and or in some type of way. The piece is based on a singular melody that doesn't appear in its full form until the end. And therefore, for most of it, until you get there, you kind of get fragments and kind of get these little variations of it, almost as if the listener or the person that's suffering from this is having trouble recollecting different things until finally at the end, they finally are able to put it together. It's related to a specific experience that I had with me and my family, with a loved one, last year, in 2021. We had a loved one who just celebrated her 100th birthday back in July, actually. So as you can imagine, the memories fading quite a bit. So we were in her house and for almost the duration of the time that we were there, it was becoming more and more apparent with each passing minute that she didn't realize who she was talking to.

But even with that, the entire time because our names were mentioned.... It was present that she knew who we were, but not that we were there. And so a lot of this time, you know, she's telling stories about us, about me, my brother and my parents, memories that she has, but not understanding that she's talking to those people that are involved in those memories. But ultimately, the moment all came together where in the end, right before we were leaving that she did put it together and realized that she was talking to us. So the piece is structured kind of in that vein of how that moment happened to of kind of being lost in her kind of figuring it out over time and having a moment of realization and figuring it out. And there's a particular moment like where it's just a singular, violent note. That's kind of your moment of realization in the piece. And there's a series in the violin that plays these high quarter notes. There are four of them, and each one of them are supposed to literally be the pronunciation of "I remember you," five syllables. And one is for me, one is for my brother, one is for each of my parents. So it's supposed to emulate that a little bit. And the melody to me is, is symbolic of the warm hugs that we were able to share afterwards, once, you know, she was able to figure it out and kind of just the joy and just love in that moment.

Barry Brake Benjamin Horne, composer, talking about a piece that you're going to hear this coming Monday at the San Antonio Botanical Garden. Goodness, musical excellence, fearless emotional exploration, deep intensity. You've picked the right ensemble because all of those things are the SOLI Chamber Ensemble cannot wait. That's next Monday, September 26th, 7 p.m. at the San Antonio Botanical Garden. All the information is at SOLIChamberEnsemble.com. That's solely solely chamber ensemble dot com. Benjamin Horne, Stephanie Key from Soli, thank you so much for joining us today.

Stephanie Key Thank you, Barry. Appreciate your time.

Benjamin Horne Thanks for having me. It was a great time.

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Barry Brake is a composer, jazz and classical pianist who has been a part of San Antonio's music scene for decades. You can find his musings and musical exploits online here: http://barrybrake.com/