Wheeling Symphony Orchestra (WSO) announces its 2022-2023 Opening Night Gala Celebration – “American Stories” on Thursday, September 29, 2022 at the Capitol Theatre. The concert will feature world-renowned cellist Yo-Yo Ma, performing the John Williams Cello Concerto, and the world premiere of Migrations in Rhythm: A Concerto for Beatbox and Rhyme with music by Evan Meier and lyrics and beats by Christylez Bacon, featuring Bacon as soloist. The 7:30 pm concert will be preceded by a Gala Dinner and followed by an After-Party in the Capitol Theatre Ballroom. All are ticketed events.
“Our Opening Night Celebration will be special in many ways,” says Music Director John Devlin. “We are honored to have an artist of Yo-Yo Ma’s caliber play with the orchestra and we cannot wait to welcome him to Wheeling and have him perform the music of John Williams in this, the composer’s 90th birthday year. We are also excited for our audience to experience the world premiere of a new piece of music that was commissioned by the WSO for this event. Migrations in Rhythm: A Concerto for Beatbox and Rhyme, is the result of a unique effort between creators Christylez Bacon and Evan Meier. It was a joy to be part of the collaborative process and to see Christylez and Evan share ideas generated from their unique artistic perspectives. The result is a project that is unlike any other, combining orchestral music with Chris’ immense talents in the areas of rap, beatboxing, electronic looping, spoon playing, and he will even improvise a freestyle cadenza. I am proud to present this extraordinary work that examines the way that the United States has served as a point of musical intersection for different cultures.”
Yo-Yo Ma, photo by Jason Bell.
Christylez Bacon photo by Joshua Yospyn for Worn Magazine.
Evan Meier photo by Megan Mook.
John Devlin photo by Rebecca Kiger.
Yo-Yo Ma will perform the cello concerto that was written for him by American composer John Williams. Williams and Ma have renewed their celebrated, decades-long collaboration with a new version of the concerto, which was revised in 2021. A recording of the revised concerto was released in May of 2022 on the Sony Classical album, A Gathering of Friends.
This will not be Yo-Yo Ma’s first appearance with the Wheeling Symphony — he performed with the orchestra 50 years ago in December of 1972 when he was just 17 years old. On that concert, Mr. Ma performed the Schumann Cello Concerto.
Yo-Yo Ma’s performance will be followed on the program by Migrations in Rhythm: A Concerto for Beatbox and Rhyme. Evan Meier has explained that “the work explores the concept that different rhythmic streams occurring at once could serve as a metaphor for the diversity of musical experiences in America. Migrations explores West-African polyrhythm in the Ewe Agbadza, the Ring Shout from Coastal Georgia, the music of Irish immigrants, the influence of Afro-Cuban and Afro-Brazilian styles, the introduction of swing vernacular from New Orleans, and the influence of Latin American rhythms and instruments in Funk and Go-Go.”
Christylez Bacon, who wrote the lyrics and beats for Migrations, will be featured as soloist on the piece. Bacon has said of the project, “During such a divisive time in American society, music is giving us the opportunity to create enjoyable experiences together. It reminds us of the multitude of things we have in common . . . This concerto invites the listener to exist in the past, present, and future simultaneously to peer into the DNA of American music.”
A work by the American composer Caroline Shaw will also be featured on the Opening Night Concert. The piece, titled Entr’acte, has twice been programmed by the WSO for concerts that were cancelled or postponed due to the pandemic. Maestro Devlin looks forward to finally sharing the piece, noting, “I am especially eager for the audience to experience our interpretation of Caroline Shaw’s Entr’acte. We first prepared this piece more than two years ago but our plans to perform it were scuttled by the pandemic. The unique way we plan to present the work will be a very compelling opening to the concert.”
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Enrico Lopez-Yañez’s arrangement of The Star Spangled Banner will also be performed. The anthem is traditionally featured on the WSO’s season opening concert and Maestro Devlin is pleased to share the work of American composer and his longtime friend Lopez-Yañez, who is the principal pops conductor of the Nashville Symphony.
In addition to the concert, the WSO’s Opening Night Celebration will include a Gala Dinner in the Capitol Theatre Ballroom featuring cocktails, butlered hors d’oeuvres and a seated dinner by Kimberley Ashlee Catering. A post-concert After-Party, also in the Capitol Theatre Ballroom, will serve as an opportunity to celebrate the opening of the WSO’s 2022-2023 season with desserts, cocktails and entertainment by singer/songwriter and pianist Eli Lambie and friends. Limited tickets for the Gala Dinner and After-Party are still available by contacting the WSO Office at 304-232-6191. Tickets to the concert can be purchased by contacting the WSO Office or by visiting www.wheelingsymphony.com.
Yo-Yo Ma’s appearance with the Wheeling Symphony has been made possible through the generosity of many individuals including: Judge Frederick P. and Mrs. Joan C. Stamp, Jr.; W. Peter Holloway, Jr.; Wendy, Julie, and Phil Polack; Mr. John and Dr. Gail Looney; Harold and Roanne Burech; Lea Ridenhour and Eriks Janelsins; Jean and Mike Bailey; Lynne and Ben Exley; The Wheeling Symphony Auxiliary; Beth and Bill Yaeger; Sue Siebert Farnsworth and John Kepner; McPhail Law Offices and Shari McPhail; Alfredda J. Lollini; Kris Molnar; Jean Davidson; Linda Whitaker; David and Dixie Ellwood; Suzanne Rohrig Gaiser; Louis and Charlotte Khourey; Ryan and Melanie Murray; Daniel and Chelsea Young; Christina Terek; Ron and Dana Presutti; Mary Beth Hughes; Bryan Ramsey; and Kathleen and PJ McDermott.
The commission of the original work Migrations in Rhythm: A Concerto for Beatbox and Rhyme was supported by the following businesses and individuals: National Road Utility Supply, Inc., Art & Vicky Musicaro; Belmont Savings Bank; Mary and Dennis Hanley; Sikora Montessori School; and Mr. and Mrs. Lee C. Paul IV.
Additional support for the Opening Night Gala Celebration has been provided by West Liberty University and Tom and Chris Anthony.
Tickets to the WSO’s Opening Night Concert – “American Stories” with Christylez Bacon, Evan Meier and Yo-Yo Ma can be purchased by phone at (304) 232-6191, via email at firstname.lastname@example.org, or in person at the Box Office, located at 1025 Main Street, Suite 811, Wheeling, WV 26003. Tickets for the Opening Night Gala Dinner and/or After-Party can be purchased by phone at (304) 232-6191.
Celebrating over 90 years of serving the Ohio Valley with great live orchestral music. From subscription concerts and holiday spectacular events to chamber series and educational concerts, the Wheeling Symphony provides world-class musical entertainment throughout the Ohio Valley. Led by Music Director John Devlin, the WSO continues to be the smallest city in the United States to support a symphony of this size and caliber.