The Free Press, Mankato, MN

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May 19, 2013

MSO explores architectural inspiration in today's chamber music series finale

Andrew Norman, a talented 33-year-old composer from New York, draws much of his inspiration from architecture.

According to Norman’s website, his piece "The Companion Guide to Rome" is a unique composition that is “at different times and in different ways, informed by the proportions of the churches, the qualities of their surfaces, the patterns in their floors, the artwork on their walls, and the lives and legends of the saints whose names they bear.” The composition brings to life the texture of his favorite Roman churches through music and was recently named a finalist for the 2012 Pulitzer Prize in Music.

Lydia Miller, Mankato Symphony Orchestra concertmaster and artistic director of the Music on the Hill production series, specifically “seeks out a blend of both old and new composers that complement each other in style, through instruments used, and variation of length.”

Miller -- as well as pianist Mary Jo Gothmann, cellist Kirsten Whitson, and new to the series, violist Emily Hagen -- will be performing Norman’s "Companion Guide to Rome" as well as Brahms's "Piano Quartet in G minor" and Beethoven's "String Trio in C minor" at the MSO's 2012-13 chamber music series finale, “Lonely Planet.”

“Chamber music series is unique because it features two to eight musicians,” allowing for the audience to experience the music in a personal, up-close format, said MSO Executive Director Sara Buechmann.

Within the “Lonely Planet” performance, audience members will experience a lot more dialogue in which the oral history of a particular piece is used to educate the audience. Once the performance is complete, the musicians open up the floor to field questions of all varieties from the audience. Questions can range from those seeking information about the instruments used, to personal technique, to a musician’s particular past or musical interest, to possible challenges faced in putting a production together.

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