Christopher Theofanidis: Creation/Creator

On Thursday, April 23, at 8:00p, and Saturday, April 25, at 7:30p at Symphony Hall, Music Director Robert Spano and the Atlanta Symphony Orchestra and Chorus are joined by international vocal soloists for the world premiere of Creation/Creator, by Atlanta School composer Christopher Theofanidis.

Because of its shared title, subject matter, and performing forces (vocal soloists, chorus, and orchestra), Christopher Theofanidis’s Creation/Creator inspires comparison to Franz Joseph Haydn’s oratorio masterpiece, Die Schöpfung (1798). Both the Haydn and Theofanidis works explore and celebrate the miracle of the creation of this Earth, and the life that walks upon it. Haydn confessed that while composing The Creation, he experienced a remarkable spiritual transformation: “I was never so religious as during the composition of ‘The Creation.’ Daily I fell on my knees and asked God for strength.” But another transformation manifested itself as well. Haydn was at the height of his artistic maturity and powers when he composed The Creation, and that experience and mastery inform each and every bar of the oratorio. It is clear that in his musical celebration of the divine act of Creation, Haydn also celebrated the miracle of his (and by extension, man’s) ability to act as a creative force.

During the course of Christopher Theofanidis’s Creation/Creator, the implied subtext in Haydn’s The Creation emerges as an explicit parallel subject. And although more than two centuries of time, and development of musical styles, separate the two compositions, the affinity between them and their creators is clear. In addition to the technical brilliance that abounds throughout, both works radiate an optimism and joy for life, typical of these composers’ works in general. And as with Haydn, Christopher Theofanidis has the gift to recognize and express humor, even when portraying the divine. As with Haydn’s masterpiece, Creation/Creator proves the ideal embodiment of Baudelaire’s philosophy, expressed in An Angel in the Marble: “Look, genius is no more than our childhood recaptured at will but equipped with the maturity of physical means and analytical mind to bring order to the sum of experience.”

Please join us at Symphony Hall on Thursday, April 23, at 8:00p, and Saturday, April 25, at 7:30p to celebrate a remarkable new work by one of our most treasured colleagues.

-Ken Meltzer

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