Baltimore Symphony violist’s Poe-inspired commission, “Dark Bells”

Posted on: October 25, 2016

“Edgar Allan Poe, never lacking for attention in the city where his remains have been at rest since 1849, will receive some more next weekend, and in a very Baltimore-centric manner,” writes Tim Smith in Friday’s (10/21) Baltimore Sun. “The Baltimore Choral Arts Society will present the Baltimore premiere of ‘Dark Bells,’ a Poe-based work for the unusual combination of solo viola, chorus and orchestra by Baltimore-based composer Jonathan Leshnoff. The viola soloist will be longtime Baltimore Symphony Orchestra member Peter Minkler, who commissioned the work. ‘I’m a big admirer of Poe,’ Minkler says…. Minkler’s hunger for viola music … started him on the path to ‘Dark Bells’ several years ago.” He used $28,000 in prize monies he had received to fund the commission. “Minkler performed in the world premiere of ‘Dark Bells’ with the Fort Wayne (Ind.) Philharmonic Orchestra (which co-commissioned it), conducted by its music director, Andrew Constantine, in May 2014.” The piece includes two of Poe’s poems: “The Bells” and “Eldorado.” “Minkler interprets the viola in ‘Dark Bells’ as representing ‘the soul of the poet. I’m commenting on the poems,’ he says of his solo part.”

Posted October 25, 2016