Oregon Symphony to Premiere Peel's Work

John PeelThe Oregon Symphony will feature the world premiere of composer John Peel's "Sinfonia romanza" Tuesday, Oct. 25, at 8 p.m. in the Smith Auditorium at Willamette University. Peel is the composer-in-residence at the University.

Portland performances will take place Saturday, Oct. 22, and Sunday, Oct. 23, at 7:30 p.m., and Monday, Oct. 24, at 8 p.m. in the Arlene Schnitzer Concert Hall.

The night of classical music will also include two sweeping Romantic-era pieces, Tchaikovsky's "Romeo and Juliet" and Chopin's "Piano Concerto No. 1," with James DePreist conducting and Horacio Gutierrez as piano soloist.

"Sinfonia" was composed in the desert of eastern Oregon, in a landscape of ancient volcanic ruins.

"It no doubt affected my sense of musical time and connectedness," Peel said.

The piece is--in turns--brooding, heroic, lyrical, pastoral and brusque, and filled with unexpected elements, such as nostalgic tenor-tuba chorales and an unaccompanied horn solo. The one-movement symphony moves through a world of harmony that is at times lean and at times lush. Spiky woodwinds and biting trumpets give way throughout to velvety, muted strings and horns.

Peel is one of Oregon's premier composers, having received numerous awards and grants from the National Endowment for the Arts, the Rockefeller Fund and other agencies. Major ensembles that have commissioned and performed Peel's chamber and orchestral music include the Pittsburgh Symphony, the Seattle Symphony, the Riverside Symphony, the American String Quartet, the New Arts Trio and Cuarteto Latinoamericano.

Peel was appointed composer-in-residence and Irene Gerlinger Swindells Professor of Music at Willamette in 1990. In this position, he has written new compositions and organized concerts, residencies and lectures.

"John has introduced Salem audiences to world-class performers and composers of new music," said Carol Long, dean of Willamette's College of Liberal Arts.

Tickets range from $20 to $38, and may be purchased at Safeway TicketsWest (1-800-992-8499).

Willamette University staff, students and faculty may purchase tickets for the Portland performances at a 20 percent discount by calling the Oregon Symphony Box Office at 1-503-416-6380, between 2 p.m. and 9 p.m. weekdays. For the Salem performance, Willamette University staff, students and faculty may contact the Music Department at 503-370-6255 to arrange for discounted tickets. Students may also purchase tickets at the door for $5.

For more information call the Oregon Symphony Association in Salem at 503-364-0149.