MSO Welcomes Ron Lattin as New Executive Director  

The MSO board has recently appointed Ron Lattin as its new Executive Director, following months of careful planning. Since joining on April 1, Ron has been working closely with Jon Lewis, MSO’s long-time leader, to ensure a smooth transition. Jon is retiring after a distinguished career as the MSO Executive Director, and will continue playing as Principal Percussionist after taking a well-deserved break. With Jon’s leadership, the MSO has grown and greatly increased its impact on the community.   

Ron comes to the MSO after a 25 year career in nonprofits serving in many development and leadership roles including executive director of Rural Health Care Initiative and the MN Association of Criminal Defense Lawyers. Ron is a committed volunteer and contributes his time to several community initiatives, including serving as Board President of Youth Performance Company and on the boards of Beyond Walls and EquaSpace. He is also a devoted volunteer driver for the nonprofit Daily Work.    

The MSO is excited to welcome Ron and looks forward to his valuable contributions as the organization continues to grow and evolve.

“Sikiliza Kwa Wahenga” by Michael Abels

Submitted by Stuart Ronkainen

I loved the movie Get Out, in part because of its excellent score, particularly the extremely eerie theme “Sikiliza Kwa Wahenga”. In this track, the Swahili lyrics loosely translate to “Brother, listen to the ancestors. Run! You need to run far! (Listen to the truth) Save yourself! Run! Run!” The composer, Michael Abels, has described the style as “gospel horror”, something he and director Jordan Peele describe as recognizably black but lacking any of the hopefulness of traditional African-American music.

Michael Abels is best-known for his scores for the Oscar-winning film Get Out, and for Jordan Peele’s US, for which Abels won the World Soundtrack Award, the Jerry Goldsmith Award, a Critics Choice nomination, an Image Award nomination, and multiple critics awards. Abels is co-founder of the Composers Diversity Collective, an advocacy group to increase visibility of composers of color in film, game and streaming media. Upcoming projects include the ballet for concert band FALLING SKY for Butler University, AT WAR WITH OURSELVES for the Kronos Quartet, and the Hugh Jackman film Bad Education for HBO.

The Spacious Music of Orlando Jacinto Garcia

Submitted by MSO Board Member Kris Kautzman

I don’t know about you, but I’ve been way over-scheduled the past few weeks, and craving some time to just sit and watch the clouds go by. On Tuesday, as waves of rain blew into the Twin Cities, I not only got that chance to sit and watch the dramatic sky — I also discovered a great soundtrack for the activity! Cuban-American composer and educator Orlando Jacinto Garcia (b. 1954) is known for compositions that are “time suspended- haunting sonic explorations.” His catalog includes more than 200 works for strings, solo instruments, voice, chorus, orchestra, electronics – and combinations of all of the above! There is a fascinating list of works to explore on his website. 

What caught my eye this week was an album of his orchestral works, recently uploaded to YouTube. Orlando Jacinto García: Orchestral Music, Vol. 2 is a collection of four works inspired by nature; three concertos with orchestra for violin, piano, and clarinet; and a piece for full orchestra. The music is minimal and lyrical at the same time, and I really did feel like time was suspended. The next time you need to take a break and lose yourself in some spacious music, I recommend spending 14 minutes listening to “The Distant Wind II.” Enjoy!

Samuel Coleridge-Taylor

From Christine Melchert

This weekend we are fortunate to play “African Suite: IV. Dance Negre” by Samuel Coleridge-Taylor.  Here are some fun facts in addition to what Bill shared at rehearsal:
• His mother named him after the famous English poet Samuel Taylor Coleridge
• His first commission came via Edward Elgar
• His most famous work is “Hiawatha’s Wedding Feast” based on a poem by Longfellow
• He was influenced by his friendship with African American poet Paul Laurence Dunbar to concentrate on his African heritage in his music
• He was 23 years old when he wrote “Danse Negre” (the 4th and most familiar movement of “African Suite which highlights elements of the African experience)
• He was hugely popular in the United States 110 years ago and inspired leading figures in the early civil rights movement
• In 1904, he was the first black man to conduct a white orchestra in America
• You can watch a 2 hour documentary on YouTube about  Samuel Coleridge-Taylor and His Music in America (1900-1912)
• Chineke! Orchestra has made more of his music familiar like this Ballade for Orchestra Opus 33
I highly recommend this in-depth and fascinating presentation about Samuel Coleridge-Taylor and the Musical Fight for Civil Rights
You can also listen here to Samuel Coleridge-Taylor’s All Time Best Works.
Samuel Coleridge-Taylor