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Nov 11, 2023

idioms | electric

7:30 PM Central Time
St. James Cathedral, Chicago, East Huron Street, Chicago, IL, USA

A charged performance of Daron Hagen’s Film Noir: Concerto for Electric Guitar and Orchestra featuring soloist D.J. Sparr, electric guitar, a world premiere by D.J. Sparr featuring soloist Maria Clark, soprano, and Conduction #5 by Molly Jones.

*Tickets will also be sold at the door. Join us for a free pre-concert talk at 6:45pm! Masks optional.

The 2023-2024 season is sponsored by the Katherine L. Griem and Anthony G. Montag Charitable Fund.

Daron Hagen - Film Noir: Concerto for Electric Guitar and Orchestra, featuring D.J. Sparr, electric guitar

The music, prose, and films of Daron Hagen have inspired an array of international performances, commissions, and formidable champions spanning several generations: from Leonard Bernstein and JoAnn Falletta to Mei-Ann Chen and Lidiya Yankovskaya; from Gary Graffman and Leonard Slatkin to Kate Lindsey and Lara Downes. Composer of 14 operas and two internationally-laurelled composer-director edited opera films, 6 symphonies (major works for ASCAP’s 75th Anniversary, the New York Philharmonic’s 150th, the Curtis Institute’s 75th, Yaddo’s 100th, and institutions such as the Seattle Opera, Philadelphia Orchestra, National Symphony, Buffalo Philharmonic, Albany Symphony, and Orpheus Chamber Orchestra), 14 concertos, chamber music and over 300 widely-performed art songs, he is also a prolific stage and film director, librettist, and the author of a critically acclaimed memoir, Duet With the Past. He studied at Curtis and Juilliard, has taught at schools from Bard to Curtis, the Chicago College of Performing Arts to the Princeton Atelier and led music festivals and non-profit foundations. A Lifetime Member of the Corporation of Yaddo, he has adjudicated for the NEA, Copland House, CRI, Joy in Singing, NATS, Opera America, VCCA, ASCAP, and received two awards from the American Academy of Arts and Letters, the Kennedy Center Friedheim Prize, Guggenheim Fellowship, two Rockefeller Foundation Bellagio Residencies, and the Barlow Endowment, Bearns, and Nissim Prizes. His music is recorded on labels from Sony Classical to CRI, and published by Peermusic Classical. Represented by Encompass Arts, he lives in Rhinebeck, New York with his wife, composer/performer/educator Gilda Lyons and their sons.

Hagen writes: “The Electric Guitar Concerto will celebrate the guitar’s central role in American popular history by roaming freely through folk songs, protest songs, classic rock and roll, and contemporary thrash—a joyous, celebratory romp with an uplifting finish.


Molly Jones - Conduction #5

Molly Jones’ practice incorporates improvisation and composition with saxophones, flutes, and electronics. Her work originates in a place of playfulness, listening, and attention.

Influenced by her experiences in jazz, new music, Balkan brass, and Scottish country dance ensembles; her fascination with found sounds; her work as a software engineer; and her ongoing participation in mindfulness communities, she has created electroacoustic pieces, chamber works, experimental theater performances, poetry, and video in addition to maintaining an improvisation practice. She performs with Chicago quartet Mad Myth Science.


D.J. Sparr - Message to Our Sons, featuring Maria Clark, soprano

Composer & Electric guitarist D.J. Sparr, who Gramophone recently hailed as “exemplary,” is one of America’s preeminent composer-performers. He has caught the attention of critics with his eclectic style, described as “pop-Romantic…iridescent and wondrous” (The Mercury News) and “suits the boundary erasing spirit of today’s new-music world” (The New York Times). The Los Angeles Times praises him as “an excellent soloist,” and the Santa Cruz Sentinel says that he “wowed an enthusiastic audience…Sparr’s guitar sang in a near-human voice.”

He was the electric guitar concerto soloist on the 2018 GRAMMY-Award winning album with JoAnn Falletta and the London Symphony Orchestra. In 2011, Sparr was named one of NPR listener’s favorite 100 composers under the age 40. He has composed for and performed with renowned ensembles such as the Houston Grand Opera, Cabrillo Festival, New World Symphony, Washington National Opera, and Eighth Blackbird. His music has received awards from BMI, New Music USA, and the League of Composers/ISCM. Sparr is a faculty member at the famed Walden School’s Creative Musicians Retreat in Dublin, New Hampshire. His works and guitar performances appear on Naxos, Innova Recordings, & Centaur Records.

D.J. lives in Baton Rouge, Louisiana with his wife Kimberly, son Harris, Nannette the hound dog, and Bundini the boxer. D. J. Sparr’s music is published by Bill Holab Music.

About The Soloist:

Maria Clark has been acclaimed for her virtuosic skills of expressive singing across the idioms of Opera, Oratorio, and Art Song, and has been critiqued as possessing “The Voice of An Angel”.  One of the most important aspects of her vocal abilities is her superb control of a very large instrument, all the while presenting a beautiful, rich, and layered voice.

In 2020, Maria Clark has been the soloist for several high-profile events and has successfully competed in vocal competitions.  She performed at the Progressive National Baptist Convention which included Stacey Abrams as the keynote speaker, and John Lewis and Andew Young as special guests.  Ms. Clark also performed at the Toni Morrison Memorial Concert in Atlanta, which was commissioned by the Toni Morrison Society, and has appeared on PBS performing in the Opera Goes to Church series. She is also the Oxnard Gold Medalist winner of the 2004 American Traditions Competition and was a winner in the West Palm Beach Opera competition. She has enjoyed performing opera throughout Europe and South America and has performed with opera companies and symphony orchestras.

Ms. Clark also released her debut cd of African American Spirituals arranged by Maria Thompson Corley, entitled "Soul Sanctuary" recently.  It hit number 27 on the Amazon Best New Classical Music charts and is available for purchase on Amazon and other major online music platforms.

She is the Senior Lecturer of Vocal Studies at Spelman College, and also instructs voice at Emory University.

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