“Beyond Sensorial Portals is a rhapsodic orchestral work that can also be summarized with one word — celebration!” And so, composer James Lee III introduces his new work, which premieres on November 12, 2022, performed by the Orlando Philharmonic Orchestra. Music director Eric Jacobsen conducts the 11-minute concert-opener which was commissioned by the orchestra for the inaugural celebration of its new concert space Steinmetz Hall. (Beyond Sensorial Portals was also co-commissioned by the Arkansas and Colorado Symphony Orchestras.) Jacobson notes, “The first thing that people will hear this year in the ‘Classics Series’ is James Lee III’s world premiere; and James is clearly one of the great voices out there today and [he is] finding such an incredible voice of his own right now.” Beyond Sensorial Portals receives a subsequent performance on November 13.
Lee continues. “One particular cause for joy and celebration is the opening of Steinmetz Hall — the new concert hall for the Orlando Philharmonic Orchestra. The title of the work is inspired by the idea of concert-goers anticipating [attending] an orchestral concert and hearing great music! One imagines the initial admiration of a patron upon entering a building which contains a concert hall. After entering the edifice, one’s senses may be impressed by observing the beauty of the chandeliers, paintings in the foyer, and other visual items of art. I also tried to hint in the music [itself] the idea of various conversations discussing the works that one will soon hear. Throughout my composition, I introduced themes that are presented, revisited, and transformed in playful, reflective, and triumphant manners.
“After the concert-goer’s sense of sight has been dazzled by the scenes in the foyer, the sight is further impressed by the beauty of the concert hall itself after passing the next ‘portal.’ The visuals of the orchestral players playing through certain passages is then surpassed by the sense of hearing that tries to distinguish between melodies among the different family groups of instruments. Finally, after the first downbeat of the concert, the audience’s senses of sight and hearing see the gestures of the conductor and hear the beautiful and coherent sounds emanating from the orchestra. It is then that we pass through the next ‘portal’ and go beyond the senses and directly focus on the music itself. The various episodes of the music also include moments of beauty and reflection upon the great Creator, who gave us the wonderful gift of music. After continual ascents in the orchestra, the piece ends with a heroic and grand explosion of sound.”
Visit the Orlando Philharmonic Orchestra’s website for a preview of Lee’s composer insight into Beyond Sensorial Portals, and how he likes to compose his “opening works to have a wonderful climax of explosiveness [which highlights] the wonderful colors of the orchestra.” View and listen to the short clip here.