Albany Symphony hosting ‘young’ program

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Universal Preservation Hall is about to experience the power of young virtuosos in music.

Albany Symphony Orchestra will perform three works, one of them commissioned from 20-year-old Tyson Davis, on Saturday, Feb. 13, at 7:30 p.m. The show will be streamed live from albanysymphony.com. There will be a pre-show talk at 7 p.m. and a post-concert Q&A for members.

David Alan Miller

“We are so excited to perform Tyson’s piece, as he’s such a skilled expert,” Albany Symphony music director David Alan Miller said. “The work, named ‘Distances,’ is a tortured, expressive, introspective piece that serves as a metaphor of Tyson’s experiences looking out over Manhattan through the pandemic.”

Davis is a prodigy in his own right. He started composing music at 8 years old and is a graduate of The Juilliard School. Prior to entering The Juilliard School, Davis studied at the University of North Carolina School of the Arts with Lawrence Dillon. He took advantage of numerous opportunities at the school, writing for Eighth Blackbird, the Attacca String Quartet, UNCSA Cantata Singers and the UNCSA Symphony Orchestra. In the summer of 2019, Tyson worked with the National Youth Orchestra of the United States of America (NYO-USA) and Antonio Pappano to premiere his work, “Delicate Tension,” a piece that was commissioned by the American Embassy in Berlin for the 30th anniversary of the fall of the Berlin Wall.

Tyson Davis

“I recall, when I was sketching this work, that I had taken a trip to Roosevelt Island, which is just across from Manhattan, where my dorm is at Juilliard,” Davis said in a press release. “I remember thinking, as I looked across the East River, how close, yet how far, Manhattan was from this island. It was poetically metaphorical for what was happening and is still happening in our world. As we know, society at the current time is experiencing deep and dark wounds dealing with the pandemic and civil unrest.”

Accompanying Davis’ “Distances” is William Walton’s “Facade,” which Miller said was written when Walton was 23 years old. Walton composed “Facade” while he was living with the Sitwells, an English family known for its love of culture and the arts. Walton’s work can sometimes be found under Edith Sitwell’s poetry, and it encompasses all types of music, from folk songs to sea shanties and vaudeville tunes.

The program also features one of Johannes Brahms’ earliest works, “Serenade No. 1 in D Major,” which Miller said will be performed in a way almost unheard of. Brahms released the piece at 25 years old. The composition went through several changes; it was originally four movements and Brahms later added two. Miller said the orchestra will perform the original four movements and is utilizing an arrangement as close to Brahms’ first draft as possible.

“This Brahms work came at a point where he was trying to figure out his sound and was capitalizing on the success Beethoven had with his symphonies,” Miller said. “It’s his first orchestral piece and his dabble into what would be a model for his later work.”

Miller said the orchestra, which was nominated for its fifth Grammy in December, is excited to work with Davis and embrace the music that came from the younger years of some of music’s most prolific composers.

“The beautiful thing about Tyson is he knows what he wants and we are so honored to be performing this piece,” Miller concluded.

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