Jimmy López Bellido



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  • 2020
  • 11:00
  • 3223/ 4230/ T Perc (3)/ Str

From the composer:

Fifty years ago, one of Berkeley’s foremost cultural institutions saw the light of day. The Berkeley Symphony, originally known as the Berkeley Promenade Orchestra, gave its first concert in 1971 under the baton of Thomas Rarick and it has, ever since, filled our halls with diverse and adventurous music. I have had the privilege to call Berkeley my home since 2007, when I moved here from Finland to begin my doctoral studies at UC Berkeley, so it was with great joy that I accepted the challenge of creating a new 10-minute work to commemorate the 50th anniversary of this unique and forward-thinking symphony orchestra.

Back in the early 18th century, Irish Philosopher George Berkeley wrote a poem titled “Destiny of America” laying out his hopes and dreams of creating a higher education institution in America. Although he wasn’t able to turn his dream into reality, his poem would inspire—a century and a half later—the trustees of the private College of California, one of the colleges that would eventually form the University of California. They named the campus “Berkeley”, a name that was later adopted for the entire community. I find one of its stanzas particularly poignant:

There shall be sung another golden age,
The rise of empire and of arts,
The good and great inspiring epic rage,
The wisest heads and noblest hearts.

This stanza, I believe, embodies many of the principles upon which UC Berkeley (of which I am an alumnus) is founded. I find the word “rise”, in particular, to be in perfect alignment with the central and progressive role that both, the city of Berkeley and the university, have played in some of the most transformative moments in the history of this country. And thus, “Rise” came to be the title of this work.

A high-energy, celebratory work (very much in the tradition of the great overtures but with my personal harmonic, rhythmic, and melodic seal) “Rise” has been conceived not only as a concert-opener, but also to precede Beethoven’s final symphony, and as such, it utilizes the same instrumentation, minus the voices. In it, I have poured my love and admiration for the beautiful trinity that the Symphony, University, and City collectively make, all of which have wholeheartedly embraced and welcomed me as one of their own. This is my homage to a very special place, where the ideals of freedom, equality, and justice have been able to find fertile grounds, and where they continue to shine and flourish. Berkeley is one of those rare corners of Earth where love has already won the battle against hatred and where all its citizens are, at the same time, ambassadors and custodians of the delicate balance that allows us to coexist in peace. Who knows, perhaps thanks to this, and to the far-seeing vision of an 18th century philosopher, America is now one step closer to fulfilling its destiny.

My sincere gratitude goes to Music Director Joseph Young and Artistic Director René Mandel for entrusting me with this formidable task.

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