Chrysopylae, the Marin Symphony’s Golden Gate Opus World Premiere — One of the First 75 Tribute Events — Kicks Off May Celebrations
SAN RAFAEL, CA — The Marin Symphony’s 59th Season concludes on a high note with a once-in-a-lifetime event coinciding with the 75th Anniversary of the Golden Gate Bridge. The concert opens with the debut of Chrysopylae (kris-sop΄-i-lee), the Marin Symphony’s Golden Gate Opus commission by Rob Kapilow with Fred Newman. Beethoven’s Ninth Symphony, a magnificent musical icon celebrating a world united in brotherhood, concludes the concert program. The concerts feature the Marin Symphony Orchestra and Chorus. Chrysopylae also includes recorded sounds inspired by the bridge.The genesis of the Golden Gate Opus began four years ago. Marin Symphony Executive Director Noralee Monestere was attending an Association of California Symphony Orchestra (ACSO) conference at the same time as Rob Kapilow—envisioning the piece that will be performed on May 6th and 8th. Ms. Monestere reflects on the journey. “Rob Kapilow spoke at the ACSO conference about his experience creating the Washington Monument Citypiece. He expressed how he engaged the community in the process for this work and others. Through my close connections with the Bay Area community and knowing of advance planning that was in process surrounding the plans for a Golden Gate Bridge 75th Anniversary celebration, the idea of a Symphony commission took shape. I spoke with Rob following his talk and the rest is history. By the time the conference was over, Rob and I agreed to find a way to make it happen.”“The Golden Gate Opus/Chrysopylae was a perfect fit for our Symphony’s mission to broaden and expand its audience base.” Monestere states. “Rob’s process engaged people throughout the Bay Area—extending the experience of symphonic music. We’re proud of the piece he has created with us, and hope that it will serve as a lasting tribute to the beloved Golden Gate Bridge, our community and the Marin Symphony.”
This video is a about a brilliant composer Rob Kapilow working with Fred Newman a sound effects wizard from Prairie Home Companion. They are creating new classical music with real world sounds to celebrate the anniversary of the Golden Gate Bridge. The Marin Symphony played this composition in May of 2012.
Beethoven and the Bridge
Kapilow, Chrysopylae (kris-sop΄-i-lee), Golden Gate OpusBeethoven, Symphony No. 9
Sunday, May 6 at 3pm (pre-concert talk, 2pm)Tuesday, May 8 at 7:30pm (pre-concert talk, 6:30pm)
About Marin Symphony
The acclaimed Marin Symphony Orchestra, established in 1951, presents five pairs of classical concerts in the Marin Veterans’ Memorial Auditorium each year. Under the music direction of Alasdair Neale, more than 80 professional symphony musicians, 110 chorus members and world-class guest artists come together to bring live performances to the community. Over 100 musicians participate in the Symphony’s youth programs, including the Marin Symphony Youth Orchestra, Crescendo Workshops and the Symphony@Schools programs. Throughout the year, the Symphony produces multiple special events including Family, Holiday and Prelude Concerts. Discover more at http://www.marinsymphony.org/ or call 415.479.8100.
About Chrysopylae, the Marin Symphony Golden Gate Opus Commission
The magnificent Golden Gate Bridge is a local icon that transcends time and connects our community with the Bay Area and the world. The Marin Symphony’s 60th year coincides with the Bridge’s 75th anniversary celebration and we’re thrilled to be a part of the Golden Gate Bridge 75 Tribute. We commissioned renowned conductor Rob Kapilow to compose a musical tribute to reflect the character of the bridge and its connection to our community.
Rob began the year-long process of reaching out to people to create the original piece with us. His inspiration is drawn from experiences with people from all walks of life—from young school children, to music students and elders just to name a few. The musical experience he created reflects the shape and sound of being here. Our Marin Symphony Orchestra and Chorus, along with special sound effects by Fred Newman, of A Prairie Home Companion fame, are featured in the composition and the performance. The Chrysopylae (kris-sop΄-i-lee) Golden Gate Opus World Premiere takes place in May 2012. Learn more at www.marinsymphony.org, or on Rob Kapilow’s website, www.robkapilow.com.
About Rob Kapilow
As a composer, conductor, author, and commentator, Rob Kapilow has made it a personal mission of his to communicate both with and about music. His hugely popular What Makes It Great series, in which he accessibly demonstrates the intricacies of particular musical works, found a devoted audience on NPR’s Performance Today and has branched out into live presentations and a national television broadcast. Kapilow has introduced numerous children to elements of classical musical with his own compositions, whimsical settings of popular children’s texts such as Green Eggs and Ham, incorporating these into highly entertaining, interactive presentations as part of his FamilyMusik programs across the continent, and his compositions have been performed by major orchestras in America including the Boston Symphony, Philadelphia Orchestra, Cleveland Orchestra, and National Symphony, as well as orchestras throughout Europe, Asia, and Australia.
Over the past 15 years, Kapilow has encapsulated elements of community, history, and place with his extraordinary Citypiece series, of which the Golden Gate Bridge piece, “Chrysopylae (kris·sop΄·i·lee) is the latest example. Engaging with residents, absorbing the essence of the local surroundings, and immersing himself in the historical aspects of locale and object, Kapilow produces scores that he considers to be collaborations between himself and the community. For his Golden Gate Opus, Kapilow traveled to the Bay area for two extended stays when he met with numerous groups of people to gather personal reflections on the bridge and brainstorm ideas about sounds associated with the span. These conversations continued through Facebook, where followers were kept up to date on Kapilow’s progress. He also spent significant time at the bridge itself sampling ambient sounds and at the San Francisco Library researching archives. After many months of this preliminary legwork, and collaborations with sound artist Fred Newman, Kapilow began translating this swirl of ideas into notes, coalescing into the piece heard for the first time on these concerts, almost exactly 75 years after the Golden Gate Bridge first opened on May 27, 1937. www.robkapilow.com
About Fred Newman
Fred Newman honks for a living. He is sound designer, a writer, actor, musician and storyteller—having assembled a profession from what he used to do behind teacher’s backs.
Author of the award-winning book MouthSounds (www.mouthsounds.info), Fred can be heard most Saturday nights improvising sound effects and voices on Garrison Keillor’s live, public radio show A Prairie Home Companion, and he can be seen weekdays on the PBS reading show Between the Lions (now in its 12th season) for which he has won several Emmy Awards. Fred has created music, voices, and sound effects for television, including Saturday Night Live and the cartoon series DOUG, and in film for such movies as Who Framed Roger Rabbit?, Cocoon, Wolf, Radio Days, Far and Away, and Practical Magic to name a few. Last year, Fred created the sound of Old Faithful for the National Park Service for their new Visitor Center at Yellowstone National Park—imagined sounds traveling upwards from five miles below the geyser’s surface.Fred now performs and lectures around the country, often with his invented instruments, drawing on his Southern storytelling roots. Collaborating with theater companies, orchestras and vocal ensembles, Fred has performed his original story “Once Upon Some Time”—a modern mash-up of traditional storytelling, chaos theory and new physics, narrated to accompanying music.
Fred’s first collaboration with Rob Kapilow, Crosstown M42, is a raucous choral rendition of a New York City bus ride across Manhattan’s 42nd Street, commissioned by MacArthur Fellow Francisco Nuñez for The New York Young People’s Chorus. It has been performed in several countries with a studio CD due out this year. Fred is very excited to have partnered again with composer Rob Kapilow for Chrysopylae (kris-sop΄-i-lee), representing a nearly year-and-a-half journey of joyous seeking and discovery in history, nature, sound and music. And Fred continues to honk.
Movement I – CHRYSOPYLAE (kris·sop´·i·lee)U.S. Army officer John C. Fremont gave the name “Golden Gate” to the entrance of San Francisco Bay in his “Geographical Memoir” submitted to the U.S. Senate on June 5, 1848. Fremont wrote that the three mile strait that marked the entrance to the bay, was called “Chrysopylae (Golden Gate)” on his map, much like that of “the harbor of Byzantium (Constantinople) was called Chrysoceras (Golden Horn).” The Greek word, Chrysopylae, literally means a golden gateway or passageway, and the idea of celebrating this extraordinary meeting of earth, water and sky—this natural, golden passageway— as well as the bridge itself, was the central idea behind the movement. It begins with a recorded voice of Joseph Strauss, Chief Engineer of the Golden Gate Bridge project, floating over an imaginary, nature-filled Garden of Eden that impressionistically suggests the pre-historic, pre-European contact period through use of the native Ohlone and Miwok words for earth, water, sky, salmon, abalone, live oak, tule grass, and redwood; the names of the principal Indian tribes of the area; and the sounds and music that might have been part of this world. The successive periods of contact are suggested as these same elements are translated into Spanish and then English.
Movement II - Belief: Suspended (Building)“Belief: Suspended (Building)” refers to the bridge as a belief in possibility, suspended, as it were, over the waters of the bay. It evokes, in multiple ways, the period of the building of the bridge—over astonishingly strong protests and open disbelief in the era of The Great Depression. The movement begins with the sound of alarm bells, explosions, and pile drivers, reflecting what contemporary observers claimed was a staggering assault of violent noise that accompanied the bridge construction as it progressed from 1933-1937. Fragments of the period waltz, “There’s a Silver Moon on the Golden Gate,” the official song of the opening of the bridge, waft in and out like a radio signal. The twelve-tone row of the first section represents the 12 workers who fell through the safety net when scaffolding broke on February 17, 1937. The noisy, rivet-by-rivet rise of the towers and spinning of cables bring an optimism and a triumph of the “spirit of yes over no,” culminating in the exuberance of the opening-day celebrations on May 28, 1937. At the end of the movement, we simply gaze in awe at the remarkable and improbable new bridge, the longest suspension bridge in the world—for the next quarter of a century.
Movement III – Here is Where I GoAcknowledging the history of suicides that have shadowed the bridge, this movement uses words directly drawn from suicide notes and the words of surviving family members, concluding with a blessing for the victims using the ancient Latin words from the Requiem Mass, “Requiem aeternam, dona eis domine, et lux perpetua luceat eis’ (Grant them eternal rest, Lord, and let perpetual light shine on them.)
Movement IV – How LongThe Finale brings us back to earth through the sounds of modern life on the bridge with the choral words “Earth and water and sky,” the English words for the original Ohlone and Miwok used in the opening. The recurring refrain, “a passageway, a Golden passageway, Chrysopylae” is interspersed with text drawn wholly from the actual physical facts of the bridge itself. How long . . . is the Bridge? 4,200 feet . . . “How long . . . will your bridge survive?” asks an imagined recording of Michael O’ Shaughnessy, San Francisco’s Chief Engineer, of Joseph Strauss, Chief Engineer of the Bridge, in an exchange pulled, word-for-word, from newspaper archives . . . . Strauss answers, “Forever,” to which O’Shaughnessy replies, “How long is forever?” This piece was the end result of an enormous amount of research in newspaper, radio, television and film archives, and historical special collections.
Appreciation Message from Rob KapilowWithout the help of Paul Paroczai, my research assistant from Berkeley, sifting through this vast quantity of material would have been impossible.The local sounds painstakingly recorded by sound archivist Claudia Katayanagi were a key element in the overall sound design of the piece and an important point of departure. In addition, at the beginning of the project a wide spectrum of audiences throughout the Bay area graciously offered their thoughts about the piece—youth orchestra members, families of suicide victims, workers on the bridge itself, senior citizens who were alive before the bridge was built, boat captains who regularly sailed under the bridge, the crew of the schooner the Alma, and war veterans whose first view of home was the bridge seen from a distance. Without the support of Cynthia Newport of illume productions, Alasdair Neale, Noralee Monestere, Lou Bartolini and the Marin Symphony, and in particular, Kerry Faith Weddington, the superb initial project manager, none of these exchanges would have been possible. The Banff Centre in Canada provided a wonderful weeklong collaborative residency for Fred and me which gave us an initial opportunity to outline the basic shape of the piece. Members of the Ohlone and Miwok tribes were enormously helpful in tracking down key native words and pronunciation, and Mary Currie’s willingness to provide access to the bridge community and the bridge itself was crucial. However, my biggest thanks of all go to my collaborator on the project, Fred Newman, whose contributions go far beyond simply creating the extraordinary real-world sounds of the piece. Our conversations about every aspect of the work—its overall shape, narrative, text, themes, and purpose—were essential in bringing the piece into existence. His energy, enthusiasm, persistence, and spirit of “yes over no” get this particular bridge built.
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