St. Olaf Band hosts renowned Australian composer for spring concert
The St. Olaf Band traveled throughout New Zealand and Australia last year, performing in many of the two countries’ major cities. Now the ensemble is welcoming an important piece of that experience back to St. Olaf College — renowned Australian composer Jodie Blackshaw.
Blackshaw, a teacher, conductor, and composer from southeast rural Australia, is on campus April 2-7 to conduct a residency with St. Olaf musicians.
The culmination of her time on campus will be the U.S. premiere of her first symphony, performed by the St. Olaf Band at the ensemble’s spring concert on Sunday, April 7. The concert, which begins at at 3:30 p.m. in Boe Memorial Chapel, is free and open to the public. It will be streamed and archived online.
Blackshaw first met the St. Olaf Band and conductor Timothy Mahr ’78 while they toured Australia in 2018 performing her music. The ensemble is thrilled to have the opportunity to work with her once again.
“Our time in Australia was invigorating, and we’re honored to have this opportunity to bring Jodie Blackshaw’s latest work, a very innovative symphony, to life,” says Mahr. “This music will tug at the heartstrings of the audience members.”
Blackshaw’s Symphony No. 1, Leunig’s Prayer Book, was inspired by four prayers written by Australian poet Michael Leunig. Movement titles, derived from each prayer, celebrate the arrival of a new season. Many audience members will especially welcome the fourth movement of the symphony, The Creation of Faith, which celebrates the return of spring.
The concert program will also feature the premiere of a piece by St. Olaf senior Erika Malpass ’19 titled “out of a mountain of despair…,” which was inspired by the life and works of Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. and by the poetry and sculpture of St. Olaf Professor Emeritus of Art A. Mac Gimse ’58.
Gimse will recite the poetry and share the sculpture, A Stone of Hope, which Malpass used as the basis of her composition, which she worked on through the St. Olaf Collaborative Undergraduate Research and Inquiry (CURI) program.
Feierlicher Einzug by Richard Strauss and Lontano: Symphony for Wind Ensemble by Michael Martin, both of which will include the Boe Memorial Chapel organ, fill out the program.
St. Olaf Band Conductor Timothy Mahr ’78This will be a very special concert involving two premieres, a guest composer from Australia, a guest poet and sculptor, and the St. Olaf Band joining forces with our magnificent organ.
“This will be a very special concert involving two premieres, a guest composer from Australia, a guest poet and sculptor, and the St. Olaf Band joining forces with our magnificent organ,” says Mahr.