Centre College President John Roush is accustomed to being center stage, but an orchestra isn’t usually involved.
No, he won’t be playing the bassoon or trumpet at Sunday’s concert by the college’s orchestra. Instead, Roush will narrate “Bolts of Melody,” a composition by Richard Ford, who will guest conduct the piece at a concert at 3 p.m. in Newlin Hall at the Norton Center for the Arts.
“The piece is about Emily Dickinson and her writing process,” explains Jaemi Loeb, visiting assistant professor of music who conducts the Centre College Orchestra. “It was written for chamber orchestra, three vocal soloists and a narrator, who will be played by President Roush.”
The soloists will be Ron Wilbur, bass; Pat MacDevitt, tenor; and Shauntina Phillips, soprano.
Noting that Ford’s piece “has a real groove to it,” Loeb adds that it mimics Dickinson’s tendency to continuously edit her work.
“The text of the piece is a lot about how Emily Dickinson’s poetry is essentially unfinished because it’s mostly unpublished. She would go back and change things, and when her manuscripts were published, the publishers had to choose which words would be used. The music mimics that in an interesting way,” Loeb says. “Richard shows this editing by musically mimicking that kind of editing process. It’s really interesting and a lot of fun.”
Loeb and Centre’s music program are doing their best to get the word out about the concert, which also will feature Beethoven’s Egmont Overture and Hyden’s Symphony No. 103, “The Drumroll.” On Saturday, the day before the concert, guest composer Ford and orchestra members will be at V The Market beginning at 7 p.m. Ford will talk about his music, and community members can visit with him and the orchestra members in a cozy, informal atmosphere.
Loeb worked with Ford when she directed the Houston Heights Orchestra before coming to Danville for the visiting position at Centre. She enjoyed the experience and thought the composer could bring something new and fun to the Centre orchestra. On Ford’s website, 13stepsmusic.com, it says he specializes in composing music that is “accessible, fun, bold, vivid, and full of movement.”
The free concert is open to the public.