Take one part violin (no, make that electric violin) concerto, one part narrative story about the life cycle of an insect, combine liberally with film projections ... that’s essentially the recipe for "Love Song to the Sun." The collaboration between Nashville violinist and composer Tracy Silverman and video artist Todd Winkler will have its regional premiere Thursday, Oct. 5 at OZ Arts Nashville, performed by Silverman with the Vanderbilt University Orchestra.
The genesis of the piece was simple: The Anchorage Symphony simply asked Silverman to write a concerto. He was the one who decided it should tell a story, one that felt familiar, relatable and yet somehow new. The end result is a piece that imagines the classic hero's tale if that protagonist were one of the most seemingly insignificant of creatures. It seeks to find drama, pathos and the sublime in the experiences of a gnat that lives only 24 hours.
Silverman is midway through his tour of performing the brand-new piece with the four ensembles that co-commissioned it: Vanderbilt’s Blair School of Music, the Rogue Valley Symphony in Oregon, Alaska’s Anchorage Symphony and the Brown University Orchestra in Rhode Island.
Silverman has long been associated with an innovative, sometimes genre-busting approach to violin playing and composing. Not long after his graduation from Juilliard, he designed and built a new, electric version of the instrument with a six strings (instead of the usual four). As a member of the Turtle Island String Quartet, he regularly played compositions that blended classical, rock and jazz idioms. He writes solo, orchestral and chamber music on his own and also collaborates with another Nashvillian, percussionist Roy “Futureman” Wooten, on arrangements that distill everything from symphonic music to R&B songs to their two instruments.
Of course, those of us at Nashville Public Radio will always be partial to his appearance on NPR’s Tiny Desk Concert series.
The performance of "Love Song to the Sun" and Vaughn Williams Symphony No. 5 begins at 7:30 p.m. on Thursday, Oct. 5 at OZ Arts Nashville.