We are so fortunate to collaborate with Ethan Wickman, SOLI Chamber Ensemble, San Antonio Chamber Choir, and Tynan Davis to premiere Ballads of the Borderlands. Our Executive Director Anne Schelleng recently chatted with Stephanie Key of SOLI about preparations for the February 27th concert.
Anne Schelleng: Now that the score is finished and you have started work on Ballads, what do you find is unique about this piece?
Stephanie Key: What’s always fun for us as an ensemble is getting that new composition – it’s like a present you open up on Christmas! But I think what’s particularly cool about this piece is the San Antonio texts. Ballads was not written in Iceland, or by an older established composer; it’s right here, right now, in living flesh. And since I’m the only member of SOLI who was raised in San Antonio, I have that extra edge.
I also think it’s wonderful for the CCSA singers to have the opportunity to work with the composer. To think of what they’re experiencing for the first time – I didn’t get to work with living composers until I was in college!
AS: Including Tynan (Davis) as soprano soloist will enhance the experience as well. Her connection as a CCSA alumna, combined with her long relationship with SOLI, will create a wonderful “family” collaboration.
SK: Exactly! I’ve heard Ethan explain “why these two groups”, or why bring the Children’s Chorus and SOLI together, and as he’s said: both of our ensembles have gained national attention and won national awards for our work. Also, the versatility of SOLI’s instrumentation can really cover an orchestral palette and will provide the sound and structure to support all the beautiful treble voices.
AS: I know our singers are very excited, as you saw at a recent rehearsal. They’re engaged, working hard and ready.
SK: And they’re so accurate! These are some talented young musicians! They really respect themselves and are seeing themselves as musicians that are coming to this project to create something. It’s not just “oh this is what I do on Monday night.”
Collaboration is so neat because it’s inspiring to work with people who are doing something so completely different. It doesn’t matter if they’re eight years old, or eighty years old – everyone has something to bring. I think of myself at their (junior high and high school) age – how exciting to do something like this! And to feel the sense of responsibility that they must have.
AS: Our singers recognize the unique opportunity and sense the more intimate – more connected – experience with SOLI in this work. They’ve premiered new works before, but it’s been a long time since they’ve had a significant piece written for them. And, for many of them, the texts highlight their story.
SK: That’s just amazing – and I think the Education Initiative is brilliant. It’s so exciting to see how it’s going to play out!
Come see what a collaboration between an all-star cast can make of San Antonio’s history at Ballads of the Borderland on February 27th. You can purchase your tickets here: Ballads of the Borderland
“No matter where we are from, we all feel a sense of genetic ‘otherness,’ this idea that we have ancestors that at least in part, came from somewhere else—even if that somewhere else is a time where things were very different, and generations had to adapt to a shifting sense of identity and belonging. We’ve all at some point been the traveler, the stranger, the new person.” – Ethan Wickman