FLORENCE- Internationally known composer Roger Briggs returns to his hometown of Florence as the Shoals Symphony at UNA performs the world premiere of his Symphony No. 2, “The Shoals.”
The symphony commissioned Briggs to compose a work in honor of its 30th season. The premiere will be during the symphony’s annual holiday concert, “Celebration Concert,” 2 p.m., Sunday, Dec. 9, at the University of North Alabama’s Norton Auditorium, in Florence. Tickets are $15 adults and $5 students at the door or in advance at the Kennedy-Douglass Center for the Arts, 217 E. Tuscaloosa St., Florence, AL 35630 or 256.760.6379. This concert also is included in the symphony’s season-ticket series.
“Dr. Briggs is recognized worldwide as a masterful composer,” said Viljar Weimann, conductor and music director for the orchestra and music instructor at UNA. “His Second Symphony, ‘The Shoals,’ is all about the history, people and significance of our. The first movement is ‘The Singing River.’ He uses a Yuchi Indian melody called ‘The Corndance,’ which they sang by the river every year when they harvested corn. The second movement is ‘The Trail of Tears’ and is all about the tragic times when American Indians were forcibly removed from their homes and sent to Oklahoma holding camps. The third movement, ‘Boogie and Blues,’ pays homage to W.C. Handy as the father of the blues. It’s a very energetic dance. It is our honor to premiere this composition and be part of a ‘creation’ process.”
Briggs, born in Florence in 1952, is professor of composition and coordinator of the composition program at Western Washington University and artistic director for the Whatcom Symphony Orchestra in Bellingham, Wash. In 2005, the American Academy of Arts and Letters awarded him a Goddard Lieberson Fellowship for his composing work. His music is performed around the world by ensembles such as the London Symphony Orchestra, Prague Symphony, Seattle Symphony and others. His chamber works are performed by groups such as the Da Capo Chamber Players, New Performance Group, Pittsburgh New Music Ensemble, Fear No Music, Zephyr, Third Angle and Buffalo New Music Ensemble. He has received numerous commissions, grants, awards and prizes for his work.
“Our 30th-anniversary ‘Celebration Concert’ is a very special one for us,” Weimann said, “and for that our program has two parts. First is celebrating with traditional classical music with the Berlioz overture and Puccini/Mozart opera arias. Then, to help us celebrate the big 3-0, we wanted to do something special and decided to commission a symphony.”