Abels: Audiences Truly Enjoy It

Guy Victor Bardo

“Audiences truly enjoy it!” Conductor Guy Victor Bordo shares his enthusiasm for Michael Abels’ Global Warming as he prepares for The University of Akron Symphony Orchestra’s performance on December 7.

Commissioned and premiered by the Phoenix Youth Symphony in 1991, Abels’ ever-popular 8-minute work was inspired by the historic events of the end of the Cold War era and the collapse of the Berlin Wall. Abels notes, “Living in Los Angeles, I’ve been able to learn about music from around the world simply by opening the window; among my neighbors are immigrants from every corner of the world. I was intrigued by the similarities between folk music of divergent cultures, and decided to write a piece that celebrates these common threads as well as the sudden improvement in international relations that was occurring [at the time].”

Bordo continues. “This is the fourth time I’ve programmed Global Warming; and, it is for two important reasons. First, the experience for the orchestra is excellent. The music is engaging and rhythmically challenging, with a number of terrific solos for members of the ensemble. Second, audiences truly enjoy it. The work is crafted in a way that highlights a wide variety of tone qualities – sometimes in a solo or chamber setting, and sometimes with the very powerful full orchestra. The unique combination of ethnic music varieties [are] combined in a way that offers an uplifting and exhilarating concert experience.”

More December News: pianist Lara Downes has recorded Abels’ new solo work Iconoclasm as part of her upcoming Sony Music release FOR LENNY. The recording project celebrates the Leonard Bernstein Centennial, and is a tribute to his legacy of American music. Downes comments, “At the heart of this album is the affection and admiration that American musicians, across genres and generations, share when we look to Leonard Bernstein…Michael Abels’ [Iconoclasm] was composed in LB’s memory, [and it] reflects the kind of adventurous, genre bending American-music making that Lenny made possible….”

Abels talks about his new work. “Iconoclasm is a short homage to Bernstein. Even though I never met him, I grew up playing so much of his music I feel like he was one of my mentors. What I most wanted to capture in this music was the size of his personality, which I imagine filling every room he entered. Lenny struck me as ebullient, mischievous, dramatic, and fiercely independent — hence the title ‘Iconoclasm,’ my attempt to summarize all that genius into a single word. I hope he would get a charge out of hearing this piece [and] a big laugh, too…” FOR LENNY has already been released as a serial-digital release, and will be followed by  the CD release in February 2018.

And…More News: Back in October, Abels served as a composer-panelist at the World Soundtrack Awards, where he was also nominated for a “2017 Discovery of Year” Award for his first-ever (!) film score for the critically acclaimed, groundbreaking comedic, suspense-thriller “Get Out,” directed by Emmy-winning actor and comedian Jordan Peele.