Mahler, Liszt, Debussy…and Dechtenberg!!!

I have to give credit for the headline on this post to the event posting on Facebook for Thursday night’s University of Kentucky Symphony Orchestra concert — I couldn’t improve on the self-deprecating humor. Yes, as we have covered in stories over last weekend, we will get Gustav Mahler’s “‘Titan’ Symphony” as well as the Concerto Competition Winners playing Franz Liszt and Claude Debussy.

Lorne Dechtenberg conducting an August Bluegrass Opera rehearsal. Photo by Rich Copley |

Lorne Dechtenberg conducting an August Bluegrass Opera rehearsal. Photo by Rich Copley |

But there’s also a world premier in the offing: UK doctoral candidate Lorne Dechtenberg’s “Token of Affection.”

It’s the latest composition by Dechtenberg, a UK Symphony assistant conductor and director of the experimental Bluegrass Opera, whose other works include an opera titled “Sex, Drugs and Aliens.”

With his piece on tonight’s show, I asked Lorne to share a little bit about “Token,” which he will conduct. Here are his notes:

Just before the start of the Fall semester, (UK Symphony director) John Nardolillo expressed interest in having the orchestra read a new piece of mine. I was already planning to write an orchestral work for my doctoral thesis this year, but since John didn’t know my writing style very well, he asked if I would start by writing something shorter. He gave me a few guidelines (how long it should be, how many instruments I should include, etc.). I finished the piece last month (shortly after our concert with Mark O’Connor) and gave it to John, and I guess he must have liked it because he slated it for performance almost immediately. This week’s performance is also an honor because, as I understand it, mine is the first student-composed work that John has programmed during his time at UK.

I tried to tailor the piece to the orchestra’s strengths (in some cases, to individual players’ strengths) in hopes of creating an enjoyable experience for the musicians — it’s always been my firm belief that if the performers are having a good time, then the audience will too. To this end, “Token” is full of singable melodies and warm harmonies, and the orchestra has done excellent work on it so far, so I’m confident that Thursday’s performance will be a great one.

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