The 2011 Contemporary Music Festival takes place on April 28 and 29 at Weigel Auditorium. Presented by The Ohio State University School of Music, it includes four world premieres, live dance, and a documentary debut. This year’s festival pays tribute to Donald Harris, who recently retired his professorship at OSU after 22 years of service, and who has made a passionate, prolific 44-year contribution to classical music.
“Music is my life,” said Harris, who turned 80 years old earlier this month. “To serve as Composer-In-Residence for a festival that I founded [in 2000], and to offer a retrospective of my work as performed and conducted by colleagues, former students, and friends, is a deeply humbling experience.”
The April 28 performance features world premieres of souvenirs/résolutions by Thomas Wells; Moriarty’s Necktie by Matthew Saunders; and Souvenir from Poland byJan Radzynski. It also includes Fantasy in Two Movements by Ross Lee Finney with Kia-Hui Tan, and Darius Milhaud’s La Création du Monde conducted by Russel Mikkelson with BalletMet Columbus dancers and original choreography by Jimmy Orrante. The April 29 performance highlights six pieces of music written by Harris: Lyric Fanfare with the OSU Symphony Orchestra and conductor Marshall Haddock; First String Quartet featuring The High Street Four; Of Hartford in a Purple Light with Christine Shumway Mortine and Maria Staeblein; Pierrot Lieder with Lucy Shelton; Five Tempi as conducted by Mikkelson; and the world premiere of A Letter From Home with Shelton, Shumway Mortine, and Cosmos. A documentary entitled Sonata 1957, about a piece that Harris composed in Paris as a young man, will be screened an hour before each concert. It explores his development in mid 20th-century Paris, when pre-war musical thought bridged with post-war experimentation. Tickets to the festival cost $12 for the general public and $6 for students and seniors.