On May 25, Pacific Symphony will stream a free concert in tribute to George Floyd, marking the one-year anniversary of his tragic death. The Symphony, in partnership with the Fresno Philharmonic, Monterey Symphony and the San Jose Chamber Orchestra, commissioned the Emmy Award-winning composer John Christopher Wineglass to write “Alone Together,” a piece that addresses social issues and systemic racial disparities. Music Director Carl St.Clair will interview the composer and will conduct Pacific Symphony in the world premiere online on May 25 at 7 p.m., the one-year anniversary of George Floyd’s tragic death. The program will be available for free streaming on the orchestra’s YouTube and Facebook channels from May 25 through June 23.
“Alone Together” runs approximately nine minutes and features strings and percussion. You’ll have another opportunity to hear the work on May 27, paired with Copland’s “Fanfare for the Common Man,” as part of Pacific Symphony’s “Thursdays @ 7” online concert series.
In preparation for the first hearing of this remarkable work, you may want to read the composer’s note from the musical score.
John Christopher Wineglass
Duration: 9 minutes
Scored for percussion, harp and strings
I. Strange Pandemic Times
II. A Ray of Hope
From the composer’s journal entry:
November 20th, 2020 8:08 pm
As I sequestered “alone” quite literally to finish writing this work in walking to a market store near my sponsored beach-front quarters, I was verbally accosted by two laughing males who thought it would be funny with a bullhorn on top of their sporty Audi SUV to go around this pristine neighborhood and spew out the expletive ‘N-word’ in of ALL places where I normally do a lot of writing—Shell Beach, CA—a beautiful central coastline between LA and San Francisco. Truly… what world are we living in? Let me rephrase that: what world are some of us living in and others (millions in fact) choose to turn a blind eye?
As I dwelled heavily into this work this particular week, there were parts of America that I recognized and parts that I knew were always there BUT certainly didn’t recognize… apparently, they don’t hide behind ghostly bed sheets anymore in this extremely politically divided time and in the midst of a global pandemic. Was I still in the times of my just recently deceased parents last year of the 60s and the riots during MLK or was this 2020? Have we NOT as a nation grown… at all? It was dreamlike for me—an unbelievable seeping dystopian euphoria in a way. Were we going backwards to private and now George Floyd-esque public lynchings of the past. Indeed “Strange Pandemic Times”….my working title of the first movement. And this is just personally what was happening to me in composing this work—outside of my own disposition here was a world constantly shifting particularly here in America with an unbalanced demagogue at the helm with every day MAJOR unstable shifts in the temperature of this country. This present-day world of 2020 is reflected in this new composition by the constant shifts in tonal centers or atonality if you will—without tonality…without centeredness…swelling major-minor chords in the strings without any sense of stability or normalness. Give me normal please. There would be glimmers of hope—times of possible brilliance—yet brought back to a current dismal reality. A longing for common ground but finding no footing…no continuity. Abrupt silences…alone…many intubated. No foundation…lost in a midst of unbelief of what I was witnessing with my very own eyes in this land of ‘equality.’ The universe repeatedly brings this up…again…and again before our very own eyes—until we learn.
But…I still believe in and have hope…”A Ray of Hope” (working title for the second movement)…a hope deferred at the moment but a hope nonetheless. A hope that in this struggle together—we will come out TOGETHER somehow and in some way—stronger, more wise and vigilant.