Review: Exploring the idea of “home” at St. Paul Chamber Orchestra world premiere

Posted on: February 26, 2019

Lembit Beecher’s Say Home, premiered by the St. Paul Chamber Orchestra Friday at the Ordway Concert Hall, was “the climax of a fortnight of concerts centered upon the concept of home,” writes Rob Hubbard in Saturday’s (2/23) Pioneer Press (St. Paul, MN). Beecher’s multi-stage project “started with a poem by Christopher Santiago, a professor at the University of St. Thomas. Then another St. Thomas professor, Todd Lawrence, set up shop at a variety of Twin Cities locales and asked people to read Santiago’s poem, then answer a series of questions about ‘home.’ Dozens held forth about their ancestors, childhood and letting go of a place or, in some cases, a life. Then they read Santiago’s poem again. Beecher then composed a work that fused excerpts from 47 interviews into an eight-movement piece…. The most absorbing music arrived when the text fell away on an Intermezzo, bassoonist Brad Balliett eloquently articulating a sorrow giving way to anguish. But the most arresting combination of words and music came on the seventh movement, ‘Holding On,’ as a quiet beauty whispered beneath a woman’s reflections on death being spoken of as ‘going home.’ ”

Lembit Beecher is the composer-in-residence at the Saint Paul Chamber Orchestra, made possible by the Music Alive program. Music Alive is a national three-year-composer-orchestra residency program of the League of American Orchestras and New Music USA.

Posted February 26, 2019