Berkeley Symphony’s concert-hall return: Derrick Skye world premiere, plus Morton Gould, John Adams, Sibelius, Stravinsky

Posted on: February 7, 2022

“Returning to Zellerbach Hall almost two years to the day after its last indoor performance, the Berkeley Symphony kicks off its 50th season Sunday afternoon with a program calibrated to meet this trying moment,” writes Andrew Gilbert in Thursday’s (2/3) Berkeleyside (CA). “The concert … opens with ‘Protest,’ the fourth movement of Morton Gould’s breakthrough 1941 work Spirituals for Orchestra [in] a taut, three-minute … new programmatic context courtesy of Mark Grey. Berkeley Symphony music director Joseph Young commissioned the San Francisco composer and sound designer to create a setting drawing on recordings from the demonstrations that roiled the nation following the murder of George Floyd.” The program includes the commissioned world premiere of Derrick Skye’s As Water, Freedom, “a mutable meditation … unfolding in one flowing 12-minute electro-acoustic movement…. ‘His piece captures the confluence of water, all of us moving around together. Part of it [is] based on a James Brown song,’ … says Young.” Also on the program are Sibelius’s Finlandia, John Adams’s Lollapalooza, and Stravinsky’s Firebird Suite, which “offers an opportunity for catharsis, for starting to get a handle on the unsettling drum beat of ‘traumas that happened during this past two years, the civil unrest, the Capitol riots,’ Young said.”