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World premieres by top American composers

By Rachel Francisco

Two of the most acclaimed contemporary American composers premiered new compositions at a concert Feb. 4 at Hill Auditorium on the University of Michigan Ann Arbor campus.

New works by U-M’s award-winning composers William Bolcom and Michael Daugherty were performed by the University Symphony Band directed by Michael Haithcock, and will be among the featured compositions played during the band’s heralded tour of China in May. The trip is a significant step in U-M President Mary Sue Coleman’s strategic cultural exchange initiative with China.

Bolcom (photo left) has reworked “Concerto Grosso” for the symphony band, featuring a “solist” saxophone quartet. Meanwhile, Daugherty’s three-movement work, “Lost Vegas,” pays homage to “bygone days, when enormous neon signs punctuated the Las Vegas Strip,” he said. The three movements are entitled, “Viva,” “Mirage,” and “Fever.”

Daugherty (photo right)  has received Grammy nominations this year in the categories of “Best Classical Album” and “Best Orchestral Performance,” for his “Metropolis Symphony/Deus ex Machina” album.

The concert featured other works that the symphony band will perform on the China tour, including George Gershwin’s “Cuban Overture” and three American marches:  “The Melody Shop,” by Karl King, “Rolling Thunder,” by Henry Fillmore, and John Philip Sousa’s iconic “The Stars and Stripes Forever, “ the national march of the United States.

In addition to the pieces by Bolcom and Daugherty, the symphony band is currently rehearsing works by School of Music, Theatre & Dance faculty composers Bright Sheng and Kristin Kuster. The works of Sheng and Kuster will be performed April 8. The concert is free and open to the public; it will be held at Hill Auditorium, 825 N. University, Ann Arbor.

For more about the upcoming tour, visit or

To read a profile on Michael Daugherty, and watch a video, please go to KING OF THE ROAD.

Rachel Francisco is marketing and communications manager for the University of Michigan School of Music, Theatre and Dance.