Squire is proud to present, one of our latest and most exciting collaborations to date, bringing together the Music Academy of the West and UCSB based NCEAS (National Center for Ecological Analysis and Synthesis), in celebration of a new musical work entitled “Cocoon”, by renowned Chicago-based composer James Stephenson.
Composed, in part, at the baby-grand piano at our Executive Director’s home in Santa Barbara, Squire is thrilled to see this very special work come to fruition. Squire is very proud to work with these two incredible local institutions, both of which are leading examples of world class music programming and innovative scientific research.
The collaboration comes at a timely juncture, as the Getty announced their plans this week for its newest iteration of Pacific Standard Time, Art x Science x LA, slated to drop in 2024. “What we today recognize as art and science sprang from the same origins—a shared desire to explore and explain the universe in all its dazzling diversity,” Getty Trust president Jim Cuno said in a statement. “The Getty . . . encourage[s] museums and scientific institutions to open a far-reaching conversation throughout Southern California about their shared history, the critical challenges we face on our planet today, and the creative solutions they demand.”
We couldn’t have said it better ourselves.
Below is the Press Release from the Music Academy of the West:
Music Academy of the West and NCEAS partner to co-commission piece by James Stephenson
(Santa Barbara, Calif.) — A unique septet of instruments will come together for the world premiere of a piece entitled Cocoon by acclaimed Chicago-based composer James Stephenson on Friday, July 19th at 7:30 pm at the Music Academy of the West in Santa Barbara as part of its 72 nd anniversary Summer School and Festival. Attendees are also invited to attend a pre-concert lecture on the work from 6:45 pm to 7:15 pm.
Science and music will meet in the composition, which is based on Mr. Stephenson’s experience as an artist in residence at the National Center for Ecological Analysis and Synthesis (NCEAS), an environmental science research center affiliated with UC Santa Barbara. His residency was also supported by the Music Academy and The Squire Foundation. The composer is an alumnus of the Music Academy, which he attended in both 1988 and 1991 as a trumpet fellow, and he recently joined the Academy at the 2018 Summer School and Festival as a composer-in-residence.
Clarinet, oboe, piano, violin, harp, trombone, and a Persian percussion instrument called the tombak are an unusual mix of instruments to be playing together, but the symphony they will create in Cocoon reflects what Mr. Stephenson learned at NCEAS, itself a place where unusual combinations of scientists convene and collaborate on complex questions about the natural world.
“It’s a piece like no other I have ever written,” remarked Mr. Stephenson. “Writing for and about science was extremely energizing for me.”
Mr. Stephenson describes the piece as exploratory, interactive, and communicative, with each instrument offering its own melodies and others commenting in response, and concluding in a melodic synthesis of their contributions. Such a synthesis of musical ideas mimics the scientific synthesis that happens at NCEAS, which Mr. Stephenson described as “a cocoon of ideas that grow, metamorphose and will eventually change our world.”
Cocoon’s debut will include a moderated discussion between Mr. Stephenson and the executive director of NCEAS, Ben Halpern, who is also a professor at UCSB’s Bren School of Environmental Science and Management.
“The parallel between composing and performing chamber music with a range of instruments and developing and executing research with a group of scientists from different disciplines is striking in its obviousness, yet something I had never thought about until interacting with Jim,” said Dr. Halpern.
By facilitating interactions between artists and scientists, the artist-in-residence program at NCEAS is designed to expand the ways scientists contemplate, investigate, and communicate about the natural world while exposing artists to scientific processes and ideas.
“I’m hoping these interactions produce new insights into pressing scientific questions and new, creative artistic expressions,” said Dr. Halpern.
Fellows from the Academy will play the debut, which Mr. Stephenson says enabled him to write the piece with a depth and virtuosity he knew they could undertake while also making the piece accessible for subsequent ensembles.
“I hope that the result for those who are listening equals the excitement I had in creating it,” said Mr. Stephenson.
Tickets for the premiere are $10 to $40, with 7 to 17-year-olds free when accompanied by a ticketed adult. For tickets and event details, please visit: musicacademy.org/cocoon.
FRIDAY, JULY 19, 2019
HAHN HALL / MUSIC ACADEMY OF THE WEST / 1070 FAIRWAY RD. SANTA BARBARA, CA 93108
James Stephenson composer
Ben Halpern executive director, NCEAS
SCHUBERT Quintet in A Major, D. 667, “The Trout”
STRAUSS/HASENÖHRL Till Eulenspiegel - einmal anders!
JAMES STEPHENSON Cocoon (World Premiere, co-commission, Music Academy of the West and
The National Center for Ecological Analysis and Synthesis, or NCEAS, is a research center affiliated with UC Santa Barbara that conducts transformational science to inform solutions that will allow people and nature to thrive. It accelerates discoveries by enabling interdisciplinary collaborations and the synthesis of data and ideas that shed light on the big picture of complex environmental challenges. Learn more at www.nceas.ucsb.edu
About Music Academy of the West
The Music Academy of the West advances the development of 21st-century, classically trained musicians and cultivates discerning, appreciative, and adventurous audiences. Founded in 1947, the Academy operates on a ten-acre, oceanside campus in Santa Barbara, California, where its world-renowned eight-week Summer Festival features nearly 200 events. Programs comprise voice, vocal piano, collaborative piano, instrumental, and solo piano. In 2018, the Academy launched a four-year partnership with the London Symphony Orchestra, focusing on education and performance on both sides of the Atlantic. For more information, visit musicacademy.org.
About James Stephenson
Leading American orchestras, instrumentalists, and wind ensembles around the world have performed the music of Chicago-based composer James M. Stephenson. Most recently, Mr. Stephenson wrote a new concerto, premiered by the Chicago Symphony under the direction of Riccardo Muti. Compose Yourself!, Mr. Stephenson’s landmark young-audience work has been performed over 300 times since its creation in 2002. Mr. Stephenson is also a highly sought-after arranger and conductor.
About Ben Halpern, PhD
Dr. Ben Halpern is the executive director of the National Center for Ecological Analysis and Synthesis (NCEAS) and a professor at the Bren School of Environmental Science & Management at the University of California, Santa Barbara. His research focuses primarily on marine ecology and conservation planning but also spans a wide range of disciplines. He is also a Senior Fellow at the World Conservation Monitoring Centre of the United Nations Environment Programme.