Q&A with composer Eric Ewazen

Eric Ewazen composed “Monument to Color and Light” in honor of Colorado National Monument’s 100th anniversary.

The Grand Junction Symphony Orchestra’s 34th season opens with a unique twist.

Composer and The Juilliard School professor Eric Ewazen was commissioned to write “Monument to Color and Light,” a special, never-before-heard tribute to Colorado National Monument.

The symphony will perform the world premiere of the piece, along with other songs, as part of its concert at 7:30 p.m. Saturday, Sept. 24, at Grand Junction High School.

Tickets range in price from $15–$25 for adults and $5 for students. They can be purchased at gjsymphony.org, by calling 243-6787 or at the symphony office, 225 N. Fifth St.

A long-time resident of New York City, Ewazen, 57, talked about “Monument to Color and Light” and the art of composition in general.

Mawdsley: Have you been to Colorado National Monument?

Ewazen: I was in Grand Junction a couple years ago and toured Colorado National Monument. I had not been to that part of the country before. I had a great experience.

Mawdsley: What brought you to Grand Junction?

Ewazen: I had written a new piece for Mesa State College’s Wind Ensemble called “Grand Mesa.” I heard several performances and worked with the students.

Mawdsley: How long have you been a composer?

Ewazen: I came to the Eastman School of Music in The Juilliard School. I knew I wanted to be a composition major, and it became my profession during college.

Mawdsley: Is composition becoming a lost art?

Ewazen: Oh, no, no, no. There are always new ideas.

One thing I’ve been fortunate to do recently is travel and teach master classes around the world. This year, I was in China, Thailand, Brazil and, most recently, France.

There are composers from around the world creating new and exciting pieces of music. That makes the art living. I view art and music as windows of our times. Or the image of our times, as is the case with the piece you’ll hear.

Mawdsley: Tell me a little bit about the piece you composed for the symphony.

Ewazen: The music will be played simultaneously with a film of all these photographs of Colorado National Monument in celebration of its 100th anniversary.

I’ve never done that before, where my music will be a choreography of the photos. I’m excited about this performance of “Monument to Color and Light.” There you go. That’s the whole idea of the song with the color within the sky against the trees, against the rock formations, against the mountain scenery. It’s all about color.

Mawdsley: Will you be here for the performance?

Ewazen: Of course. Composers always try to get to a premiere performance.


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