William Neil, Composer-in-Residence
Neil moved from Chicago to the Driftless area twenty years ago to improve the quality of his family’s life. The region has enriched his music with an unique mode of expression. “His compositions present the listener with an intense brilliant effect (FANFARE MAGAZINE) and represents contemporary writing at its most intellectual probing. ” (CHICAGO TRIBUNE). “His extremely characteristic harmonic world (CLASSICAL CD REVIEW) is fundamental to the unfolding of his music. ” While in the Driftless he co-founded the Driftless Jazz Festival in Viroqua and has been a guest host for Symphony Sunday on WDRT in Viroqua for five years. The La Crosse Symphony, under the direction of Alexander Platt, premiered his first symphony, Sinfonia delle Gioie in October in 2015. More…
Here are some residency ideas:
Concert One: Story, Image, and Music
The concert will present the La Crosse premiere of Neil’s song cycle A Feather in a Shell, six songs for soprano and piano on original poems. “There are stories in all of us and we search for the words and images that illuminate the meaning of these personal events. The poems were written over the course of 5 years and each poem is a reflection on an experience in my own life.” Neil will introduce each poem and song during the performance . Photography students in the Fine Arts Department at Viterbo University will be invited to create a single image for each of the poems. An image will be selected for each song by an outside jury of professional photojournalists. The selected images will be projected during the performance. More on A Feather in a Shell…
Concert Two: Tango Tonight!
It will be daring,; it will be dangerous!
Neil’s Six Tangos for solo piano will come alive in six unique instrumental and digital acoustic arrangements including a two piano arrangement of the final tango. Elements of the culture that gave birth to the tango will be explored at this event, with words and images building up to the final performance featuring the virtuoso tango artist, April Dahl. More on April Dahl…
Concert Three: The Lives of Our Children
(performed at Mary of the Angels Chapel)
The concert will open with the La Crosse premiere of Neil’s Piano Trio No. 1 “Crystal Night” a tribute to the children who are often the innocent victims of the tragic and violent actions of men. The concert will conclude with the world premiere of a choral composition for children’s choir and chamber choir lamenting the victims of the last decade of school massacres that have plagued our nation. With the help of young poet, Rachel Schoenecker, school age children in the La Crosse area will be asked what they want to be when they grow up. These statements will be edited by Ms. Schenecker into a text that Neil will set for the children’s choir and digital acoustics. A contrasting text will be chosen and set for the chamber choir. The piece will be a ritual musical expression worthy of the sacred space of Mary of the Angels Chapel in La Crosse.
Concert Four: The Call of the Wild
In commemoration of Earth Day, this concert will present George Crumb’s Vox Balaenae (Voice of the Whale) for electric flute, electric cello, and amplified piano and the world premiere of Neil’s Canis Lupus (working title). “The most hated, most loved animals, wolves may have entered the the 21 century as the bearer of nature’s secrets to a balanced ecology. The haunting and seemingly emotional communication of howling and growling instantly penetrates the deepest resonance of our souls. My work in digital acoustics will continue to be informed by the latest research that is attempting to understand the sonic code inherent in the howl of wolves. This piece will employ the howl of wolves in a magical acoustic that will illuminate the mystic bond that humans share with this magnificent creature. The concert will also feature the premiere of Arthur Hernandez’s Desert Squall for piano, flute, cello, and electronic sounds. “After being away from my native desert southwest for literally half of my life, I have returned. Returning to this very unique region has been a personal epiphany for me. Among other experiences, I have been reminded of the juggernaut presence of the elements, none so potent as the desert winds. The desert winds of the southwest come on regularly, yet seemingly unexpectedly, and at its worst, can bring the region to its knees. The winds are a fundamental component that comprises the elemental profile of this area and without it such a profile would be markedly different. This work is my second homage to this arid terrain, and hopefully effectively communicates the formidable presence that this natural force has on this desert landscape.” AH
Let’s cause a stir…
TheComposerStudio.Com, Neil’s production and publisher company, will produce auxiliary events that will leverage the awareness of and engagement with the audience of the concert events.
Symphony Sunday Pre-concert Broadcast on WDRT 91.9 FM in Viroqua (live streaming online at wdrt.org). Neil and co-host Ed Holahan will present a pre-concert broadcast with with interviews to promote the event the weekend before the concert.
Conversation at the Castle La Crosse Bed and Breakfast Inn, Neil will moderate a lively discussion with music sampling of the concerts on Thursday evenings before the concert in the music room of this new premiere La Crosse destination to engage the local community outside the university. During this week, Neil will also host a Master Class for students at Viterbo University Department of Music.
Symphony Sunday Post-Concert Broadcast hosted by Ed Holahan on WDRT. The program that will feature recordings from each of these concerts.