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January 21, 2013

Norman Philharmonic celebrates one year

NORMAN — With multiple standing ovations, the near-capacity crowd showed its appreciation Sunday for the newest high rise of Norman’s cultural landscape.

The Norman Philharmonic celebrated its one-year anniversary at the Nancy O’Brian Center for the Performing Arts with a packed house of satiated symphonic fans. The performance featured Grammy Award--winning American composer Michael Daugherty in collaboration with Norman Public Schools and the Sooner String Project. Violinist Michael Sutton also performed with the group as visiting concertmaster.

The concert, titled “Meet the Composer - Michael Daugherty”, highlighted three of Daugherty’s pieces — “Raise the Roof”, “Trail of Tears” and “On the Air.”

Daugherty’s music could be described as postmodern and romantic, but his high-energy arrangements and ear for new sounds set him apart. The oldest of five brothers — all musicians — Daugherty’s music is full of cultural allusions and colliding tonalities. For instance, symphony-goers may recognize the timpani, but Daugherty takes the instrument into unfamiliar territory. Rarely the most outspoken orchestra fixtures, the timpani were the focal point of Daugherty’s piece “Raise the Roof.” The crowd delighted at the cacophonous mix of what were, to many, new sounds.

“The piece (Raise the Roof) that Mr. Daugherty composed was very impressive. It’s hard to believe that somebody could compose that,” said attendee Patrick Smith.

Daugherty said when composing it, he wanted to bring a different sound to the piece.

“As composers we try to find different sounds. It can be timpani, tuba, even a flute,” he said.

Daugherty’s hunt for different sounds coincides with his varied inspirations. “Raise the Roof” was inspired by varying architectural themes.

“I chose a subject matter that speaks to me,” Daugherty said.

The beginning was reminiscent of a cathedral in Europe. It later moves on to “rock and roll” and Latin styles reflecting the attitudes of the Empire State Building, Notre Dame and the Rockafeller Center.

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