January 10, 2023

Karen Bailor
Bellingham Symphony Orchestra

Harmony From Discord: Two Requiems, Choirs, Guzheng, and Oud Take the Stage at the Mount Baker Theatre

On Sunday, February 26th, the Bellingham Symphony Orchestra (BSO) will present its eighth Harmony from Discord concert, featuring contemporary composer Wu Fei's Hello Gold Mountain paired with Mozart's powerful and exalted Requiem.

Guest artists Wu Fei, guzheng, and Shanir Ezra Blumenkranz, oud, will join the orchestra for Hello Gold Mountain, Wu Fei's masterpiece inspired by stories of WWII Jewish refugees who fled to Shanghai from Europe. As Wu Fei describes, “Imagine if the Jewish composers of wartime Shanghai had stayed there, collaborated with local musicians, and learned local folk music? Imagine if these composers became a natural part of the landscape for Chinese musicians? Imagine if this collaboration lasted for generations and not just a number of years. That did not happen. Hello Gold Mountain is my attempt to write music that I think could have come out of the fascinating cultural possibilities of the Jewish presence in Shanghai.” An accomplished artist, Shanir Ezra Blumenkranz has performed alongside Yo-Yo Ma in the Silk Road Ensemble.

Next, Western Washington University Choirs and Bellingham Chamber Chorale join vocalists Sarah Shafer, SopranoNerys Jones, Mezzo SopranoBrendan Tuohy, Tenor; and Charles Robert Stephens, Baritone, for an unforgettable performance of Mozart's Requiem. Mozart's final work, the powerfully beautiful Requiem, was not finished until after Mozart's death by Franz Xaver Süssmayr; however, numerous composers and musicologists have created their own alternative completions over the centuries and much mystery remains about what notes Mozart may have left behind to instruct the completion of the work.

This concert marks the eighth Harmony from Discord concert performed by the Bellingham Symphony Orchestra. Begun in 2016, the Harmony from Discord series celebrates music that transcends oppression by shining a light on composers whose music has endured through the darkest of times across the globe. As the series has grown and evolved, the BSO now weaves Harmony from Discord elements throughout the entire season. Music transcending oppression, whether in context of composition or performance, demonstrates powerfully the intersection of artistic expression with social justice. On the BSO's website, these works are labeled with the Harmony from Discord symbol, a phoenix.

"I think the cool thing about this concert is that it’s two Requiems side-by-side," explains Music Director Yaniv Attar. "Wu Fei’s piece is kind of a Requiem for the loss of possibilities, specifically in the integration of two cultural traditions - Chinese and Jewish. For me, a major aspect of the HfD series is the question of “what if"? What if the composers we perform had not died in the Holocaust? What other treasures would we have known from them? In the case of Wu Fei's piece, if the Jews did not have to leave China, what other possibilities could have come to fruition in this richly multi-cultural environment? It is an important question, especially today, when there are so many refugee crises around the world."

 Tickets start at just $15.

        We acknowledge that Whatcom County is located on the unceded territory of the Coast Salish Peoples. They cared for the lands that included what we’d call the Puget Sound region, Vancouver Island and British Columbia since time immemorial. This gives us the great obligation and opportunity to learn how to care for our surrounding areas and all the natural and human resources we require to live. We express our deepest respect and gratitude for our indigenous neighbors, the Lummi Nation and Nooksack Tribe, for their enduring care and protection of our shared lands and waterways.
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