Grand Junction Symphony Orchestra brings a world premiere to the stage as part of its ‘Hello Cello’ concert

Listen Now
4min 37sec
Courtesy of Grand Junction Symphony Orchestra
The Grand Junction Symphony Orchestra.

This weekend, the Grand Junction Symphony Orchestra marks its 45th anniversary with a special concert featuring the world premiere of a new concerto for cello and orchestra, titled  "The Guises of Love". 

Inspired by Antonin Dvořák's Cello Concerto, the new piece explores the many facets of love and was commissioned by the orchestra from composer Daniel Perttu.

The concert, aptly named "Hello Cello," will also include Dvořák's Eighth Symphony, which, according to Charles Latshaw, GJSO’s music director and conductor, is full of great melodies for the cello. 

“So this is a little bit of a cello cello-ebration for the Grand Junction Symphony,” Latshaw joked.

However, the company takes its role in promoting living and unrepresented composers seriously. Latshaw said he tries to include contemporary and unexpected works in every program, but world premieres aren’t always the focus.

“Most of the time I am working to find the second or third performance of a piece instead of the premiere, partly because for many composers, it's harder to get a second performance than it is to get the first performance,” Latshaw said. 

He noted that while many orchestras are excited to commission new music and to present a world premiere, his favorite part of the job is helping launch a piece “into perpetuity.” 

“I'm really excited that this piece already has other performances in the works and planned down the line so that we're really launching the life of a new piece of music rather than a one-time celebration,” Latshaw said.

In this case though, the Grand Junction Symphony Orchestra is the lead orchestra in a consortium of orchestras that commissioned Perttu’s "The Guises of Love.”  The Pennsylvania-based composer said he began writing the concerto specifically for Mark Kosower, the principal cellist of the Cleveland Orchestra, after a conversation over coffee. 

“We talked about what inspired us about cello concerti in general, and we both have a mutual adoration for the Dvořák cello concerto, which I still think is one of the greatest pieces ever written,” Perttu told CPR. “I'm a neo-romantic composer, so I wanted to write a 21st-century cello concerto that is inspired by the Dvořák but is not recreating it.”

Kosower will perform the concerto during this weekend’s concerts in Grand Junction. He said it’s exciting to have a composer create a new work specifically for him. 

"To have another artist and just his whole creative world, and just to enter that and to be sort of the artist or performer that helps launch this work into the world. I mean, it's actually really thrilling."

The composition, Kosower said, is imbued with hope and heroism, from the grandest type, to the sort of everyday heroes who often go unsung. 

“This piece really captures this heroic spirit and also this optimism that I think is uniquely American, that you find in American music. And I think this is something to really be celebrated.” said Kosower. “To me, if I think of one word that describes Dan's concerto, it's ‘inspiration.’ It's very inspirational.”

This concert, Latshaw observed, highlights the importance of selecting guest artists who can connect both with the orchestra and the audience. In that way, he believes that Perttu and Kosower are a great match for the GYSO, which is almost entirely locally staffed. 

”We are serving for, and served by, musicians of the Grand Valley, of the Western Slope (of) Colorado. And that's really special that we are creating great performances, great professional-quality performances, in a town that you might not expect it.”

The concert, "Hello Cello," takes place on Saturday evening, with a Sunday matinee, at the Avalon Theatre in Grand Junction.

Editor's Note: The Grand Junction Symphony Orchestra is a financial supporter of CPR News. Financial supporters have no editorial influence.