Before the Whirlwind, Rene Clausen's Work Premieres with the F-M Symphony | Prairie Public Broadcasting

Before the Whirlwind, Rene Clausen's Work Premieres with the F-M Symphony

Jul 1, 2019

This is a talk given by Dr. René Clausen previewing his work, with flutist Deb Harris playing a Native American flute, and saxophonist Russell Peterson, performing examples from the work.  It is part of the Fargo-Moorhead Symphony Orchestra's "Urban Overture" series, aimed at young adults.

The Fargo-Moorhead Symphony said about this piece:

The WORLD PREMIERE of “Before the Whirlwind,” a piece for orchestra and 100-voice chorus that explores the primeval beginnings of our Red River Valley, will be a truly unforgettable finale to the Fargo-Moorhead Symphony’s 2018-19 season.

Dr. René Clausen, professor of choral music at Concordia College in Moorhead and Grammy Award-winning composer and choral conductor, was commissioned by the Fargo-Moorhead Symphony in 2018 to write a new piece for orchestra and chorus, and also to be the guest conductor of the April 2019 Masterworks concert in the absence of Music Director Christopher Zimmerman. The resulting piece, titled Before the Whirlwind, is new compositional territory for Dr. Clausen.

We are thrilled to collaborate with this giant in the musical world, and eagerly look forward to bringing this stunning new work to life under his baton.

Dr. Clausen will conduct the entire concert, which will also include “Elsa’s Procession to the Cathedral” from “Lohengrin by Richard Wagner (Dr. Clausen’s own arrangement), Copland’s “Appalachian Spring,” and Clausen’s own new composition, “Before the Whirlwind.” As he notes about his piece:

“The idea that became the guiding compositional principle in the writing of Before the Whirlwind was to use the tools of composition to express time—geological time.  Time measured in thousands, if not hundreds of thousands of years—the impact of geological epochs of time that ultimately shaped and molded this place where we live—the Red River Valley.

What has resulted is essentially a tone poem for orchestra and chorus that attempts to describe and illuminate the various periods of geological time.  It is music that is descriptive and visceral, inviting the listeners to open themselves up to the wonder of their imaginations. Presented as one continuous movement, the work is comprised of six sub-sections with evocative titles that demarcate shifts in geologic history: The Primordial Land, The Glaciers, The Mighty Lake, The Emerging Land – Prairie Dance, The Buffalo, and The Native Americans.”