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A Wonderful Award

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Christopher Theofanidis will receive the 2015–2016 season A. I. duPont Award from the Delaware Symphony Orchestra. Theofanidis will accept the award in person at the orchestra’s Classics Series concerts on April 1 and April 3 at the Laird Performing Arts Center at the Tatnall School in Wilmington. Conducted by music director David Amado, the concert will feature the composer’s “Dreamtime Ancestors.”

“I am honored and excited to be performing a work of one of America’s most respected and established composers, Chris Theofanidis,” Amado says. “Played by many of the great orchestras of the world, Theofanidis’s music will now be heard here in Delaware—and I think our audience will quickly understand why he is one of the most performed living American composers. His compositions are filled with vivid colors and textures, with cinematic sweep and deep emotional content, and an immediacy that is irresistible.”

“Dreamtime Ancestors” is a three-movement, 17-minute tone poem for orchestra that includes optional readings before each movement. It is based on the Australian aboriginal creation myths connected to dreamtime, where each of us is connected to each other through our dreamtime ancestors in the past, present and future. This is referred to as ‘all-at-once time.’

The work is dedicated to Stephen Paulus, who Theofanidis remembers as “a wonderful human being and music maker, who is a part of us all, past, present and future.” Theofanidis (b. 1967) is one of the more widely performed American composers of his generation. He regularly writes for a variety of musical genres, from orchestral and chamber music to opera and ballet. His work, “Rainbow Body,” which is loosely based on a melodic fragment of “Hildegard of Bingen,” is one of the most performed orchestral works of the past 15 years and has been programmed by over 120 orchestras around the world. Theofanidis’s works have been played by such groups as the New York Philharmonic, the London Symphony, the Philadelphia Orchestra, the Orpheus Chamber Orchestra and the Moscow Soloists, and he has a long-standing relationship with the Atlanta Symphony and Maestro Robert Spano. Several of his works have been recorded by that ensemble. In 2007, he was composer of the year for the Pittsburgh Symphony, for whom he wrote a violin concerto for soloist Sarah Chang. Theofanidis has written widely for the stage, from a work for the American Ballet Theatre to several dramatic pieces.

His large-scale “The Here and Now” for soloists, chorus and orchestra, based on poetry of Rumi, was nominated for a Grammy in 2007. Theofanidis is on the faculty of Yale University and has taught at the Peabody Conservatory and The Juilliard School. He is also a fellow of the US-Japan Leadership Program. Mr. Theofanidis’s upcoming works include an evening-length oratorio for the Atlanta Symphony and Chorus; a new work for the Miro String Quartet for Chamber Music Monterey Bay in collaboration with three other composers and the multi-media artist, Bill Viola; and a work for a New Music for America consortium of orchestras. In 1985, the Delaware Symphony instituted the A.I duPont Award to honor Alfred I. duPont.  In addition to his philanthropic interests, Mr. duPont was an accomplished musician credited with founding the DSO. The award recognizes a distinguished living American composer or conductor who has made a significant contribution to contemporary classical music. Past winners are among the most celebrated composers of recent history, including Aaron Jay Kernis, Morton Gould, John Adams, Robert Ward, Phillip Glass, George Crumb, Libby Larsen and Jennifer Higdon. Kevin Puts received the 2014–2015 Season award. DSO will perform Spring nights, featuring Theofanidis’s “Dreamtime Ancestror,” April 1 and 3 at Tatnall School.

Tickets may be ordered from The Grand Opera House Box Office at 652-5577, in person at 818 North Market St. in downtown Wilmington or online at www.ticketsatthegrand.org

Photo by Alexandra Gardner/NewMusicBox.org

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