Unique, original, fresh and appealing all describe the Eos Orchestra and its upcoming performance Sunday, Feb. 16th. Eos offers something other than the traditional orchestral experience. Their mission is to present engaging programs to a variety of people employing non-traditional approaches and rare musical scores. Their motto, according to executive director Stephen Vann, an ’84 University alumnus, is “A new way to see music.”
The Eos Orchestra was founded in 1995 by its artistic director Jonathan Sheffer, a successful conductor and composer. The idea behind Eos is to make the music open and available to everyone. Vann says it should be “accessible for the novice but still entertaining for the expert.”
“Conducting is one of the great joys of my life,” said Sheffer who conducts Eos and also has conducted the scores for popular movies like “Alien 3” and “Interview with the Vampire.” He loves working with Eos because he finds it a good way to express his creativity, both musically and through the program planning. Sheffer has been a driving and innovative force behind Eos. Picking obscure, lost or rare pieces to bring to the public, he succeeds in making them relevant to today’s audiences.
The success of the non-traditional programming can be attributed, in part, to Sheffer’s genuine commitment to the orchestra and the pieces he selects. “He is brilliant in so many ways, including the way he puts pieces together side by side, so that one work allows you to see the other pieces more intimately,” Vann said.
The performance on Sunday will include selections from Paul Bowles and Aaron Copland. The latter is often described as one of the quintessential American composers.
Though Copland’s name is relatively well known today, Sheffer found most of the upcoming program’s material untouched and forgotten in the Library of Congress. The concert will include “The City Suite” with twenty minutes of black and white footage from a film Copland made for the 1939 World’s Fair.
The program will also include Copland’s beautiful musical piece “Appalachian Spring” with the original ballet program being performed as a rare treat. “You will come away feeling and knowing that this is a composer with something to say to today’s audiences,” Vann testifies.
The material Eos plays is always something that isn’t normally performed by an orchestra. This helps account for the fact that more than a third of Eos’ audience falls between the ages of 25 and 35. Sheffer insists it is because “we offer familiar and unfamiliar together.”
The whole orchestra is proud of the reputation it has garnered, as well as the work and presentation that have justly brought about such talk. Eos musicians are real partners in the production of the material. They take an active roll on all levels and in all facets, including business and creative aspects of the group. This creates a passion and enthusiasm for the work clearly seen in their performance. Vann explains, “I think what the audience can expect is to be drawn into the music by the passion of the playing.”