On the Spark episode “World Premieres,” encounter things previously unseen and unheard. Join maestro Kent Nagano and the Berkeley Symphony Orchestra (BSO) as they work with young Japanese composer Naomi Sekiya to bring her brand-new concerto for two guitars to fruition as part of the BSO’s first Composer-in-Residence program.

Most great musicians start very early in life, but not so for Sekiya. Having grown up in a small rural Japanese village, Sekiya had never played an instrument or written a single note of music. It wasn’t until receiving a scholarship and attending college that she enrolled in her first music course. She now holds degrees from UCLA and USC, and her career in music has exploded. She is catching the eyes of conductors and orchestras worldwide.

Sekiya first met the French-Spanish guitarists Gaëlle Chiche and Francisco Bernier, who perform as duo ASTOR, in Italy at Alessandria’s International Competition. She was so impressed by their playing that she decided to create a work for two guitars and a large orchestra. The world premiere of her “Double Guitar Concerto” marks the second work by Sekiya included in the BSO’s 2003-04 season as part of her residency.

Maestro Nagano, the music director and conductor of the Berkeley Symphony Orchestra since 1978, is a champion of undiscovered and cutting-edge works. Nagano has conducted the world premieres of John Adams’s “Death of Klinghoffer” and Debussy’s unperformed opera “Rodriguez et Chimene.” In 1997, he presented the world premiere of Leonard Bernstein’s posthumous “White House Cantata” with the London Symphony and performed and recorded Benjamin Britten’s original — and neglected — four-act version of “Billy Budd” with the Hallé Orchestra.

The partnership between Nagano, Sekiya and the entire Berkeley Symphony Orchestra hopefully marks the beginning of a productive Composer-in-Residence program, bringing new works to ever-greater visibility and rewarding risk and innovation with prominence.

More about the Berkeley Symphony Orchestra
The Berkeley Symphony Orchestra has a history of operating off the beaten path. Founded by Thomas Rarick in 1969 as the Berkeley Promenade Orchestra, the orchestra members abandoned the traditional tuxedo in favor of street clothing and opted to performed in unusual settings, such as the University Art Museum in Berkeley. They later adopted formal wear, but have never lost their pioneering spirit, presenting programs that comprise rarely heard 20th-century scores. The orchestra became the Berkeley Symphony Orchestra in 1981, and in 1989, it moved from the 750-seat First Congregational Church to UC Berkeley’s 2,015-seat Zellerbach Hall.

Kent Nagano 6 August,2015Spark
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