KU School of Music at the Kennedy Center
World Premiere of Freedom from Fear: Images from the Shoreline
The University of Kansas School of Music and Reach Out Kansas, Inc. presented the world premiere of Kevin Walczyk’s Symphony No. 5, Freedom from Fear: Images from the Shoreline on Sunday, April 29, 2019 at the John F. Kennedy Center for the Performing Arts. The University of Kansas Wind Ensemble, conducted by Paul W. Popiel, and Jazz Ensemble I, directed by Dan Gailey, combined to perform this new work, commissioned by Reach Out Kansas, Inc. As part of Chancellor Douglas Girod's inauguration events, a Chancellor's Concert and Kennedy Center preview was given Wednesday, April 18 at 7:30 p.m. at the Lied Center of Kansas.
Walczyk drew inspiration from President Franklin D. Roosevelt’s 1941 State of the Union address, Four Freedoms, which identified freedom from fear as a fundamental human right. Underscoring the piece will be shoreline images that speak to courage in the face of violence, such as the 2015 photograph, Humanity Washed Ashore, of the 3-year old Syrian refugee, Aylan Kurdi, whose body was found on the beach in Turkey after his boat capsized; three American soldiers who died at Buna Beach during World War II; and immigrants arriving at the Statue of Liberty, in reference to Emma Lazarus’ sonnet, The New Colossus.
Walczyk explains, “The entire work is unified by the concept of freedom from fear as attributed to displaced peoples. Each movement obtains its concept from an image (photograph, painting, or even an image conjured in one’s mind) that has a connection to the shoreline.”
The Kennedy Center performance also featured Palos Nuevos: The Jazz/Flamenco Project, which the KU Jazz Ensemble I premiered in Spring 2017 at the Lied Center of Kansas. Composed by Gailey and choreographed by Michelle Heffner Hayes, Palos Nuevos emulates the flamenco tradition of dialogue between dancer and musician and the practice of trading fours in jazz improvisations. The suite featured Hayes, chair of the KU Department of Dance, performing the “baile” (dance); Steve Leisring, professor of trumpet, playing the ‘cante’ (voice); flamenco guitarist Beau Bledsoe as the “toque” (guitar); and Brandon Draper, KU music lecturer, performing on percussion.
Freedom from Fear and Palos Nuevos are legacy projects of Reach Out Kansas, Inc. Legacy projects are driven by an extraordinary vision and a desire to create something truly transformative, that will impact the world for generations to come.