On Tues., May 15, a new work by composer Gregory Youtz will have its world premiere at Pacific Lutheran University in Tacoma.  --  "Drum Taps: Nine Poems on Themes of War" is an orchestral and choral work that evokes the experience of war.  --  Taking its title from Walt Whitman, the 55-minute piece was inspired by nine poems from diverse cultures.  --  Tickets are $8.00 general, $3.00 PLU Alumni, and students under 18 are free.  --  See below for more information about the work, as well as a link to a videoclip in which Youtz discusses his new work.[1] ...


WHAT: "Drum Taps: Nine Poems on Themes of War"
WHO:  Gregory Youtz
WHEN: Tuesday, May 15, 2012 -- 8:00 p.m.
WHERE:  Mary Baker Russell Music Center, Pacific Lutheran University, Tacoma, WA

The final spring event of PLU's School of Arts and Communication will feature a 55-minute work by composer Gregory Youtz entitled "Drum Taps: Nine Poems on Themes of War."  It includes excerpts from four poems by Walt Whitman from the section of Leaves of Grass that was introduced in the 1867 edition.  Whitman entitled this section "Drum Taps," and included in it poems written during the Civil War that provide views of war that range from an excited anticipation of a quick and heroic experience to a somber reflection on the human cost of war.  Interspersed among these are five poems by writers from other lands and other times -- perhaps not coincidentally places where the U.S. has been involved in wars:  Vietnam, China, the Middle East, and Europe.

Says Youtz, "All these works serve to remind us that artists and poets from all cultures and times have commented on war and the variety of experiences that people have -- as soldiers, as loved ones or as victims.  While the image and the reality of soldiers heading off to war may vary -- from the unwilling conscript of China to the proud volunteer of the Civil War and today’s professional armies -- the conversation a society has about war and its effects seems remarkably fresh, vivid, and familiar across these nine poems.  I have tried to set each with respect for its culture, time, and essential themes, sometimes selecting excerpts from a longer poem, sometimes using instruments that evoke music from its culture, or simply reading its words as closely and sympathetically as I can."

The vocal soloists for the piece are well-known Puget Sound area singers:  Janeanne Houston, soprano, Melissa Plagemann, mezzo soprano, Stephen Rumph, tenor and Barry Johnson, baritone.  The Pacific Lutheran University Choir of the West and University Chorale will join the University Symphony Orchestra onstage, directed by Jeffrey Bell-Hanson.

The world premiere of this work will be on Tuesday, May 15, 2012, at 8:00 p.m., in Lagerquist Concert Hall, in the Mary Baker Russell Music Center.  Also featured on the concert is Mozart’s C Minor Piano Concert (No. 24) with soloist PLU Professor Oksana Ezhokina.  Tickets may be ordered at 253-535-7601 or at the door.  Tickets are $8 general, $3 PLU Alumni, and students under 18 are free.

For a brief video on the premiere with comments by the composer and orchestra director, please visit:  http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=9byvIsxJgqQ

--Gregory Youtz received his Doctorate in Music Composition from the University of Michigan in 1987.  His compositions include a symphony, a full-length opera, and numerous other works for orchestra, wind ensemble, choir, and chamber ensembles.  His prize-winning wind ensemble music is frequently heard in Europe, Japan, and across North America.  Youtz was born in Beirut, Lebanon, and continues to be a traveler, drawing inspiration for his music from numerous world traditions.  A native Pacific Northwesterner, he is Professor of Music on the faculty at Pacific Lutheran University  where he teaches composition, theory, history, and courses in world music.