FCS Goes into the Mist

Author: Kate Forgach, KRFC, Host – Tattle Tales https://www.facebook.com/KRFCTattleTales

The Lincoln Center’s Main Performance Hall was transformed into a tropical African jungle last Saturday, as the Fort Collins Symphony performed the world premiere of composer Wil Swindler’s concerto “In The Mist”.

Guest artist April Johannesen’s gleaming bass clarinet sensitively portrayed the adult male gorilla, or silverback, who led his gentle family group of gorillas through a day in their lives.

A passionate supporter of gorillas and wildlife conservation, Johannesen commissioned the piece from her husband, Wil Swindler, and brought it to fruition with the sponsorship of local philanthropists Gwen and Charlie Hatchette.

The fantastical piece evocatively recreated the African rhythms and imagery of the deep jungle, where well-known gorilla activist Dr. Dian Fossy studied her beloved friends.

As the concerto opens, we hear the family at play in early morning. The violins and flutes recreate this frolicking mood that ultimately awakes the silverback.

For the first time, we hear Johannesen’s evocative bass clarinet, which she played in a jungle-printed dress and bare feet, perhaps to better ground her performance.

Soon, the family is busy building their nests, and we hear a lovely interlude performed by dual harpists Pamela Eldridge and Joni Martin and a single flute.

But before long, the silverback and his family group encounter humans eager to turn their pelts into cash. Humans are depicted with great intensity by traditional African drums led by principal percussion Hiroko Hellyer. The silverback lets out a violent cry, followed by an attempt to call for peace.

Our journey then moves to “A New Future,” in which musical statements are exchanged by the bass clarinet’s silverback and the humans’ drums.

The audience awoke from this fantastical concerto to provide the orchestra, guest artist Johannesen and composer Swindler with an immediate standing ovation that was more than well earned.

It’s my producer/husband Roger’s considered opinion “In the Mist” may well become a standard in the orchestral repertory.

Well done, folks. Well done.