The School of Music announces two exciting upcoming performances

New musical works will be premiered in honor of the University’s 150th anniversary

A wide view of the Hall Recital Hall interior

The School of Music announces two exciting upcoming performances

New musical works will be premiered in honor of the University’s 150th anniversary

A wide view of the Hall Recital Hall interior

Since 1899, music has been integral to campus life, resonating through various groups and even influencing legislative halls. The introduction of a community orchestra in 1927 united students and professionals, leading to incremental growth of programming. Over decades, the Department of Music expanded its reach, founding the Reno Jazz Festival in 1968, achieving NASM accreditation in 1981, and eventually renaming to the School of Music in 2023, a change that embodies its commitment to excellence across academics, performance, and community service.

This year, the School of Music in the College of Liberal Arts plans several events to celebrate the 150th Anniversary, including the premiere of two new pieces to be performed on February 27 and April 19. With the support of President Brian Sandoval and his office, both new works commemorate 150 years of excellence, exalt the beauty of the American West and look forward with anticipation to the University’s next chapters. 

Tuesday, February 27 at 7:30 p.m. | Faculty Artist Concert: Elegance and Nuance Meet Innovation

The evening will feature the grand Poulenc Sextet for Piano, Flute, Oboe, Clarinet and Bassoon, selections of operatic arias, and a world premiere of a dance is a kind of wish — a concertino for cello and chamber ensemble in honor of the University’s 150th anniversary — by one of the foremost up-and-coming talents of our generation, former Reno local Paul Novak.

Paul Novak portrait
Paul Novak

Described as “spellbinding” by The Washington Post, the music of Chicago-based Novak immerses listeners in shimmering and subtly crafted musical worlds full of color, motion, light, and magic.” His new composition, a dance is a kind of wish, plays on the celebration of dance — the rhythm, buoyancy, excitement, animated intensity, and cycling kaleidoscopic colors. “It’s fun and transformative, leading into the ‘wish,’ a nostalgic longing, expressive, reminiscing piece,” says Novak.

Novak attended the Davidson Academy, performed in the Reno Philharmonic Youth Orchestra and studied composition with School of Music professor James Winn. Novak’s excitement for creating the piece is evident. “It’s like coming full circle. I love that my mentors reached out; they were so formative in my early training. I love the opportunity to write and showcase this micro concerto for cello and seven instruments. It is meant to showcase all nine players,” he said.

Novak will be in residence with the School of Music for three days. Of the experience, he mentions, “I look forward to being back in Reno, working with the University, the students. It’s always nice coming home.” 

a dance is a kind of wish premieres on Tuesday, February 27 at 7:30 pm at the Hall Recital Hall.

Tickets: FREE

More information: Faculty Artist Sesquicentennial Concert

Friday, April 19 at 7:30 p.m. | Nevada Wind Ensemble and Chamber Singers: Celebrate 150!  

The evening will feature chorale and wind ensemble works that celebrate the University and will culminate in the premiere of a new work in its honor: And the Cities Rise Like Dreams by Steve Danyew. Rochester, New York-based Danyew is an internationally recognized composer whose music has been hailed as “startlingly beautiful… undeniably well-crafted and communicative” by the Miami Herald and has been praised as possessing “sensitivity, skill and tremendous sophistication” by the Kansas City Independent

Portrait of Steve Danyew
Steve Danyew

The impetus for the piece came about as Danyew was approached by conductor and School of Music Director Reed Chamberlin. “Chamberlin was looking for something to rival Ansel Adams’ photo archives of the West: wide open western landscapes, art that portrays the vastness of the West. I was excited by the idea for the celebration,” says Danyew. The composer visited campus and combed the University Libraries Special Collections and University Archives, looking for inspiration, and in particular, the text for the choir. Combing through hundreds of archival texts, he came across many fascinating materials from Nevada and other parts of the American West. 

“There were lots of interesting songs and old poems. Sifting through, I reached the idea of creating a piece to try to emulate the West in general. Musically it’s part of a sunrise, darkness to light; and the west wide open, to the rise of cities. I ended up finding three poems that resonated with me and spoke to the grandeur and beauty of the western landscape. In thinking about these poems, I decided that perhaps the piece could tell a story of the American West’s landscape,” says Danyew.

The three selected poems, all published in the 1920s, are written by M. Genevieve Williams (written while she was a student at the University of Nevada, Reno), Jack Sinclair (a Nevada-based poet) and Clarence Eddy (a self-proclaimed “poet-prospector”).

Danyew further explains, “To signify the growth and success of the University, I decided to use the metaphor of a sunrise. The beginning of the music (and the text) tells the story of a quiet and peaceful night. As the music progresses, it slowly builds as the light of day begins to break. By the fanfare-like conclusion of the work, the text and music have brought us fully into the light and grandeur of Western day.”

Danyew is the recipient of numerous national and international awards, and his compositions have been performed worldwide in venues such as the Sydney Opera House, Kennedy Center, Carnegie Hall, and the steps of the US Capitol. Danyew’s recent work Into the Silent Land was named the winner of the 2019 Walter Beeler Memorial Composition Prize. 

And the Cities Rise Like Dreams will be performed on Friday, April 19, at 7:30 p.m. in Nightingale Concert Hall. Steve Danyew will be in residence to celebrate his work and the 150th anniversary of the University.

Tickets available | General admission: $12 | K-12 students and educators, college students: FREE

More information: University of Nevada, Reno School of Music

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