Galbraith: A Piece that Does It All

Nancy Galbraith’s A Festive Violet Pulse is a piece that does it all.” James Welsch, music director of the El Paso Symphony Youth Orchestras, opines as the ensemble prepares for its November 11 performance at El Paso’s Chavez Theater. Galbraith’s three-minute piece was commissioned by the Pittsburgh Symphony to welcome its then-new music director, Mariss Jansons, who conducted the premiere in 1998.

Pictured above is Galbraith’s acknowledgement during the ceremony for her recently endowed chair at Carnegie Mellon College of Fine Arts; Photo courtesy: Matthew Galbraith

Welsch continues. “A Festive Violet Pulse is a work which has been a joy to prepare with the El Paso Symphony Youth Orchestras. It is highly approachable and rife with rhythm. The piece achieves, in a short period of time, a multitude of orchestral colors, timbres and fluctuating energies which creates a ‘drive’ – a drive which is inherent in my ensemble each time we take on rehearsal. …Pulse… is a piece which makes the most of its musical material and has been helpful in teaching how a piece of music is shaped and constructed – [it lets] the student’s growing knowledge of this ultimately inform and inspire their performance of it.

“This work is one of many works by under-served composers that the El Paso Symphony Youth Orchestras is programming this season. It has quickly become an orchestra favorite because it provides a challenge for all but has created an opportunity for the ensemble to sound its best. No doubt Galbraith’s …Pulse… will be well-received by our audiences. [Again,] it is a piece that does it all right from first burst to the last. It doesn’t linger or dwell – it moves! And in that way, I’m certain it will move our concert-goers to their feet after its impressive display of energy…It deserves to be heard [and] played more often in our concert halls and firmly belongs in our list of barn-burner works for orchestra!” More news: in August, Galbraith was officially awarded the Vira I. Heinz Professorship of Music endowed chair at the Carnegie Mellon College of Fine Arts.

Upcoming: December 14 brings the world premiere of Galbraith’s Piano Concerto No. 3, featuring soloist Sung-Im Kim as she joins the Chamber Orchestra of Pittsburgh led by conductor Edward Leonard.