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BFA Gala Concert, Featuring Premiere of "Mayflower Suite"

Heather Kent conducting everyone in "Mayflower Suite"
Graduating seniors
Judy and Deborah with the graduating seniors (L-R: Jiweon Ryu, Catherine Jones, Judy Grant, Deborah DeWolf Emery, Mayuko Akimoto, and Madeline Aiken)

On Saturday, May 14, 2011, BFA hosted a special end-of-season Gala Concert Celebration.  The program featured the Young Artist Ensemble, the Repertory Ensemble, and the new Adult Ensemble.  In addition, the 4 graduating seniors from BFA’s Young Artist program performed solo works: Jiweon Ryu played Bela Bartok’s “Suite Paysanne Hongroise,” Madeline Aiken played Franz Doppler’s “Hungarian Pastorale Fantasie,” Catherine Jones played Ian Clarke’s “Great Train Race,” and Mayuko Akimoto played Franz Schubert’s “Variations on ‘Trockne Blumen.'”

In addition, the Young Artist Ensemble, Repertory Ensemble, and Adult Ensemble members combined together to perform the premiere of Catherine McMichael’s “The Mayflower Suite,” a newly-commissioned work for flute ensemble.  Dedicated to the students and faculty of the BFA, it is inspired by the founding of Plimouth Plantation in 1620.  The first movement, “Plimouth Landing,” evokes the excitement, apprehension, anticipation, and fears of those first European settlers in the New England area.  The musical letters B- F#-A (the Boston Flute Academy monogram) generate the themes in the opening and closing sections.  The contrapuntal form, common to the early Baroque period, is reminiscent of the type of music the settlers might have been familiar with.  The middle section is a rolling serenade, evoking the ocean crossing.

The second movement, “The Pilgrim,” is a portrait in courage, strength, and suffering.  The rising line suggests hope, and the minor key evokes the struggles and challenges.

The third movement, “1620,” is more joyful, also set in ne0-Baroque contrapuntal style.  The theme is tossed from flute to flute, from low to high, right-side-up and upside-down.

The overall structure of the piece was inspired by the Gigue from the French Suite in G Major by J. S. Bach.  Although Bach wrote that at least 100 years after the Pilgrims’ landing, it was chosen as a blueprint because the architecture of the piece is a culmination of the best of the Baroque period, which is when the Pilgrims lived.

Catherine McMichael is a pianist, composer, performer, arranger, and teacher in Saginaw, Michigan.