A new work by award-winning composer Baljinder Singh Sekhon II, written to feature the Arabesque Winds quintet and graduating musicians from the Lyons Senior High Concert Band, will receive its premiere on Monday, June 8, at the band’s annual outdoor pops concert.
Sekhon, who is pursuing a doctoral degree in composition at the Eastman School of Music, wrote the work as the winner of the 2008 Robert G. Boehmler Community Foundation Commissioning Prize.
Titled “Synergy,” the nine-minute piece includes a fast rhythmical section and a slow melodic section that put the high school band’s seniors in the spotlight with individual and group solos. In preparation, Sekhon talked with the students about their musical interests and listened to them perform. He worked to create a piece that the students themselves would enjoy hearing and playing and that would reflect their tight-knit sense of teamwork, the composer explained.
“While writing this piece, I was thinking of the students and the conversations we had,” said Sekhon. “The resulting piece contains musical characteristics that represent their diverse interests. I invite the audience to listen with an open ear to the musical content.”
Sekhon is an active composer and teacher who has received numerous commissions to write works ranging from full orchestra to Indonesian gamelan ensemble to solo pieces. His recent honors include the Morton Gould Young Composer Award from ASCAP (American Society of Composers, Authors and Publishers) and the Brian M. Israel Prize from the Society for New Music. At Eastman, he has twice won the Howard Hanson Orchestral Prize. A full concert of his works was presented in 2008 at The Stone, an experimental and avant-garde performance space in New York City. His work has also been performed at the New World Symphony’s Musicians’ Forum concert series and will be featured at the upcoming World Saxophone Congress. Sekhon is one of three composers under the age of 30 selected to participate in the composers workshop during this year’s Cabrillo Festival of Contemporary Music.
Arabesque Winds is a woodwind quintet of Eastman School musicians who have earned several major honors, including the Grand Prize at the 2008 International Chamber Music Association Ensemble Competition, the 2009 Arthur W. Foote Prize from the Harvard Musical Association, and most recently, the Coleman-Saunders Prize for Woodwinds and Brass in the Coleman Chamber Ensemble Competition.
The Lyons Senior High Concert Band performance featuring the premiere of Sekhon’s “Synergy” will be held at 7 p.m. on June 8 on the grounds of the high school. The performance will be conducted by Camille Clark, the Lyons High School band director.
The Robert G. Boehmler Composition Award was established in 2006 by the Robert G. Boehmler Foundation to support the commission of a new work by a talented composition major enrolled at the University of Rochester’s Eastman School of Music for a piece to be performed at a Wayne County public school. Boehmler, who died in 1998, was a music teacher in the Palmyra-Macedon School District for many years and established the foundation to support education in the communities in which he lived. Previous recipients of the Boehmler Composition Award include Elizabeth Kelly and Michaela Eremiášová.
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