Nebula are clouds of gas and heat occupying space between stars and acting as a nursery for new stars. SOLI presents four past commissions to open the season, honoring its lengthy history of giving life to new works for 30 years. Ethan Wickman’s Ballads of the Borderland Suite weaves the sweeping texts of John Phillip Santos and Carmen Tafolla with personal accounts from those migrating across south Texas into a narrative of “cultural history that is at once panoramic and intimate.” Robert Xavier Rodriguez’s Piñata para los amantes - based on the overture to the composer’s opera Frida - blends samba rhythms and Mexican folk songs, as well as American Jazz techniques. Alexandra Gardner explores life in the deserts of the Southwest in Crows, an illumination of Muscogee (Creek) Nation poet Joy Harjo’s beautiful texts. Steve Mackey’s Prelude to the End is influenced by Messiaen’s iconic Quartet for the End of Time in its themes of mortality, restless textures, and dense harmonic paths. Nebula invites the listener into SOLI’s musical ‘living room’ to reflect on the themes of love, commitment, and reflection, and on how past relationships have formed who we are today.
Galaxies takes the listener on a journey through a brilliant array of musical textures, colors, and ideas - each held together by a distinct compositional voice much as gravitational attraction binds billions of stars together with gas, and dust into visually stunning galaxies. Two past SOLI commissions - SOLI Collage by Paul Moravec and Overland Dream by Peter Lieuwen - play with vital rhythms and create a lively interplay between instruments. Vespers by Missy Mazzoli and Like Doves with Grey Wings Embracing by Anna Pidgorna ground the program with haunting melodic lines. A new commission by Kyle Rivera, winner of this year’s Cross-Country Chamber Consortium award of which SOLI is a founding member, is at the center of this concert. Anaglyph - A Repository of Imaginary Languages explores the nuance of language - phonetics, morphology, constituency, and syntax - through the lens of a musical language as deciphered by the performers.
Macrocosm is the final concert of the season and occurs on the 30th anniversary of SOLI’s first concert in 1994. The program spans past, present, and future - three representative parts of SOLI’s significant contribution to the world of contemporary classical chamber music - contrasting representative works from SOLI’s commissioning output with the whole of their oeuvre. Highlights of the program include San Antonio-born Robert Xavier Rodriguez’s Musica: por un tiempo - a deftly scored three-movement piece commissioned by the ensemble in 2007 in which the rumba, polyphony, and Latin dance rhythms overlap in endless contradictions: turbulent, yet comforting; steamy, yet soothing; ornate, yet not at all fussy; and the premiere of a new work - Four Contacts - from Elliott Miles McKinley commissioned by SOLI for the total solar eclipse in April 2024. These are complemented by the moody colors of Jennifer Bellor’s A Grey Dream and the majestic ringing tones of Galina Grigorjeva’s Prayer, both representing voices of our current time and the broad expanse of contemporary soundscapes.