Deus ex Machina (2007) for Piano and Orchestra was commissioned by a consortium of the Charlotte, Nashville, New Jersey, Rochester, and Syracuse Symphony Orchestras. It receives its world premiere in Charlotte as part of the celebration of the Charlotte Symphony's 75th Anniversary Season.
Michael Daugherty is a celebrated and prolific American composer whose music is rooted in American pop culture. He has said that "American icons"Â provide the stimulus for his work, and he gets ideas while browsing used book stores and antique shops or driving through small towns across the country.
The title Deus ex Machina refers to the Latin phrase, "god from the machine."Â Daugherty writes that "each of the three movements of the piano concerto is a musical response to the world of trains."Â Inspired by depictions of speeding locomotives in paintings by European modernists, the first movement, "Fast Forward,"Â explores the futurist concept that machine technology could create a universal culture.
The second section, "Train of Tears,"Â depicts the funeral train that carried the body of President Abraham Lincoln from Washington D.C. to his home in Springfield, Illinois for burial in the spring of 1865. During the journey though seven states, this slow-moving train passed through American cities and towns where memorials were held by millions of mourners who lined the railroad tracks to give their final farewell to "Abe"Â Lincoln.
The final movement, "Night Steam,"Â is inspired by the 1950s photographs by O. Winston Link of the Norfolk and Western steam locomotives, which ran in North Carolina, Virginia, West Virginia, and Maryland. Like Link's photographs, Daugherty has composed music that sonically captures the final journeys of trains from a bygone era. In "Night Steam,"Â we hear majestic fire-eating steam locomotives rumble and whistle their way through the small towns and lonely back roads of the Shenandoah Valley into extinction.
Terrence Wilson is a celebrated pianist who first performed with the Charlotte Symphony in the 1994-95 season. These concerts will mark his fifth appearance with the orchestra. A native of the Bronx, Mr. Wilson is a graduate of The Juilliard School. Subsequent to the world premiere in Charlotte, he will perform Deus ex Machina with the Nashville Symphony.
Giancarlo Guerrero is in his fifth season as music director of Oregon's Eugene Symphony, where he is known as a champion of new music. A native of Nicaragua, he grew up in Costa Rica and studied conducting at Northwestern University in Illinois. Mr. Guerrero is in demand as a guest conductor in Latin America as well as throughout the United States.
Also on the program are British composer William Walton's Crown Imperial march, first performed at the 1937 coronation of King George VI, and Edward Elgar's Enigma Variations. -- www.charlottesymphony.org