Symphony Orchestra | Arthur Fagen, conductor; Phillip Sink, composer

Symphony Orchestra
Arthur Fagen, conductor
Piano soloist to be announced
Sink: Afterimages for orchestra (DM dissertation;
2016, premiere)*
Liszt: Piano Concerto No. 2 in A Major, S.125
Stravinsky: Firebird: Concert Suite No. 2 (1919)
*See below for program notes.

About the Conductor
Arthur Fagen has been professor of orchestral conducting at the Jacobs School of Music since 2008. Additionally, he has been music director of the Atlanta Opera since 2010.

He has conducted opera productions at the world's most prestigious opera houses and music festivals. From 1998 to 2001, he was invited regularly as guest conductor at the Vienna State Opera. On the concert podium, he has appeared with numerous internationally known orchestras.

Fagen has an opera repertory of more than 75 works. He has served as principal conductor in Kassel and Brunswick, as chief conductor of the Flanders Opera of Antwerp and Ghent, as music director of the Queens Symphony Orchestra, and as a member of the conducting staff of the Chicago Lyric Opera.

From 2002 to 2007, he was music director of the Dortmund Philharmonic Orchestra and the Dortmund Opera. He and the Dortmund Philharmonic were invited to the Concertgebouw in Amsterdam, the Palais de Beaux Arts in Brussels, and to Salzburg, Beijing, and Shanghai.

Fagen conducted a new production of Turandot at the Atlanta Opera in 2007, opening the season and inaugurating the new opera house, the Cobb Energy Performing Arts Center.

He was first-prize winner of the Baltimore Symphony Orchestra Conductors Competition, as well as a prize winner of the Gino Marinuzzi International Conductors' Competition in Italy.

Fagen has recorded for BMG, Bayerischer Rundfunk, SFB, and WDR Cologne. He records regularly for Naxos, for which he has completed the six symphonies of Bohuslav Martinu. His Naxos recording of Martinu's piano concertos was awarded an Editor's Choice award in the March 2010 issue of Gramophone magazine.

Program notes for Afterimages for orchestra (2016)

by Phillip Sink

The original inspiration of Afterimages came from a video and electronics piece I composed in 2015 titled To See in Color. The piece guided the audience through the anatomy of the human eyeball and explored what it means to see in color. Through composing To See in Color, I discovered that the “design” of our eyes is quite backwards. For instance, the photoreceptor cells (rods and cones) are located in the very back of our retina pointing in the opposite direction of the light source. As a result, in certain light we can see shadows of white blood cells coursing through the capillaries of our retinae. This particular effect is called the “Blue Field Entropic Phenomenon,” which makes an appearance in Afterimages.

The concept underlying Afterimages is based on three different natural phenomena that cause us to see objects and flashes of light that are not there. The piece opens with the concept of floaters in the eye, which is represented by chromatic noodling figures. Floaters are caused by debris in the fluid of our eyes. If the debris is close to the retina, it can cast shadows causing the appearance of floating objects. The second phenomenon, which largely guides the form of the piece, is the afterimage. The afterimage occurs whenever the photoreceptors in our eyes fatigue after we look at an intense image for too long. When we look away from the image, a faint ghostly impression will briefly remain in our vision. I emulate this by composing larger sections of music called “images” followed by “afterimages,” which are residual musical passages that either fade away or crossfade into new sections. I use the image/afterimage pair idea for large global sections as well as local events. For instance, towards the end of the piece, you’ll hear melodic material that is echoed in other instruments throughout the orchestra. The final phenomenon and climax on the piece is the aforementioned Blue Field Entropic Phenomenon, which causes one to see zips of lights as he or she stares into the clear, bright blue sky.

The form of the piece is designed as: Floaters in the Eye – Image/Afterimage I – Floaters in the Eye Return – Image/Afterimage II – Blue Field Entropic Phenomenon with Afterimages – Coda. The first image emerges out of the introduction and is lyrical in mood. A rhythmic ostinato drives an acrobatic flute solo. This ostinato is transferred to the high strings in the first afterimage. In direct contrast, the second “image” is pulsated and comical in character. In this section, you’ll hear an enthusiastic trombone section and flexatone player. The second “afterimage” surges with harmonies from “Image II” played by the strings using a circular bowing technique. In this moment, you’ll hear remnants of rhythm and previous sounds cutting through the veil-like texture of the strings. In the final section, flitting woodwind lines and string ricochet bowing represent the Blue Field Entropic Phenomenon. Following this moment, “afterimages” of previous melodic fragments come and go. In this concluding section, listen for earlier ideas to “float” throughout the orchestra.

Symphony Orchestra | Arthur Fagen, conductor; Phillip Sink, composer