Amazing Grace

Date(s) - Nov 21, 2021
2:00 pm

Lesher Center for the Arts
1601 Civic Dr., Walnut Creek

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Welcome to the Diablo Symphony Orchestra’s 59th season! Finally together after more than a year away from the stage, the orchestra invites you to join in celebrating the return of live music! This first concert of the 2021-22 season, directed by guest conductor Emily Senturia, will begin at 2:00 pm on Sunday, November 21 at the Lesher Center for the Arts, located at 1601 Civic Drive, Walnut Creek.

Titled “Amazing Grace”, this musical tribute to resilience and connection to cultural roots features works by composers of African-American, Black British and Czech descent. The program opens with Adolphus Hailstork’s 2011 orchestral Fanfare on “Amazing Grace”, which weaves fragments of one of West’s most familiar hymns into an exhilarating fanfare. Although an Anglican priest when he wrote the words “Amazing grace! (how sweet the sound) That sav’d a wretch like me!”, Newton had been an English slave trader before transforming experiences led him to become a cleric and active abolitionist. 20th century American composer Hailstork’s works, while continuing European classical tradition, reflect the influence of his African American heritage and spirituals sung and loved since childhood.

Samuel Coleridge-Taylor’s light-hearted “Petite Suite de Concert”, composed in 1910, centers the program. An early-twentieth century English composer, conductor, political activist and son of an African doctor he never met, Coleridge-Taylor is known for a wide range of works influenced by traditional African music and African American folk music, especially in his choral and vocal compositions.

The program concludes with Antonín Dvořák’s fittingly cheerful and optimistic Symphony No. 8 in G major. Born in Bohemia (the westernmost and largest historical region of the Czech lands in the present-day Czech Republic), Dvořák was passionate about his homeland and its traditional music, incorporating it widely in his 19th century Romantic compositions. Composed in 1889, the 8th Symphony employs a variety of melodic themes, many of them based on Bohemian material. It was dedicated by the composer “To the Bohemian Academy of Emperor Franz Joseph for the Encouragement of Arts and Literature, in thanks for my election”; Dvořák himself conducted the work’s premiere in Prague in 1890.

Emily Senturia, a San Francisco Bay Area native, brings a range of experience to the podium. She studied orchestral conducting at Boston University, violin at Rice University and opera at the Houston Grand Opera Studio, Wolf Trap, the Aspen Music Festival, and the Royal Academy of Music. She has been on the music staff at Houston Grand Opera (Nixon in China, Tosca, Faust, Aida), the San Francisco Conservatory of Music (Le nozze di Figaro), The Atlanta Opera (Sweeney Todd, Carmen), Wolf Trap Opera (The Ghosts of Versailles, Giulio Cesare, La bohème), and Opera Philadelphia (Sky on Swings, Elizabeth Cree, War Stories). Emily made mainstage conducting debuts with Houston Grand Opera and Washington National Opera in 2018, both with Il barbiere di Siviglia. Recently she has conducted La traviata with Hawaii Opera Theatre, Ariadne auf Naxos with Wolf Trap Opera, and Fellow Travelers with Boston Lyric Opera. She also continues to coach students at the San Francisco Conservatory of Music.

Guest conductor: Emily Senturia
Adolphus Hailstork – Fanfare on “Amazing Grace”
Samuel Coleridge-Taylor – Petite Suite de Concert
Antonín Dvořák – Symphony No. 8