LexPhil’s guest composer gives sneak peek of world premiere

Scott Terrell conducts the Lexington Philharmonic is a performance Daniel Kellogg's "Mozart's Hymn." © Herald-Leader staff photos by Rich Copley.

About a third of the way into Daniel Kellogg‘s Mozart’s Hymn the Lexington Philharmonic’s strings swelled and then burst, a luscious melody flowing under sparkling trills and tweets that carried the listener along.

It was enchanting, though the audience at the Philharmonic’s first Kicked Back Classics program of the season was somewhat prepared as Kellogg had just described for the audience how there were more than a dozen parts at work in that one moment of music.

Daniel Kellogg talks about his new composition, "How Radiant the Dawn," as conductor Scott Terrell and the orchestra listen.

“I love texture and I love color,” Kellogg told the audience. “And there’s no better way to do that than dividing the strings into 16 parts.”

In an interview last week, Kellogg told me that he likes to go places that let him talk to the audience about his music. In Kicked Back Classics, a program Philharmonic music director Scott Terrell developed to take the audience inside the music before classics concerts, Kellogg had an ideal format. Thurdsay’s program was a prelude to Friday’s Classics concert which will feature the world premiere of Kellogg’s How Radiant the Dawn, which the Philharmonic commissioned as part of the Saykaly Garbulinska Composer-in-Residence program.

The audience at the Downtown Arts Center was treated a complete performance of Mozart’s Hymn, which the Philharmonic will play in its April 26 Classics concert, as well as excerpts from How Radiant the Sky which depicts the sunrise Kellogg often watches from his studio outside Boulder, Colo. We were introduced to an opening flutter of flutes, chamber-like sections that lean on the principal players and a “seagull effect” produced by viola and cello players sliding their finger along the strings. The preview raised the curtain on a piece that seems to have a variety of colors in a brief window of time, sort of like a sunrise.

But we did not, of course, hear the whole thing. That’s for Friday night’s concert.

Kellogg said, “The piece is not complete until it is played by these people,” referring to the orchestra, “for an audience.”

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