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Texas Tech Hosts Concert Inspired by Alternate History

Performance at Hemmle Recital Hall is free and open to the public.

Written by Megan Ketterer

The Elegant Savages Orchestra

The Elegant Savages Orchestra
(click to enlarge)

Texas Tech University will host a concert that is inspired by the fictional world of “Bassanda” where a folkloric ensemble faces financial issues after the fall of the Soviet Union and has to recreate itself as “The Elegant Savages Orchestra.”

This alternate history narrative concert titled “Echoes of Bassanda: Symphonic Folk from a Lost World” will premiere at 8 p.m. Sunday (Jan. 26) in Texas Tech University’s Hemmle Recital Hall.

The performance will include symphonic arrangements of Bassandan folk tunes, as well as music from other traditions. The ensemble will perform pieces from “The Janissary Stomp” by musicians Roger Landes and Chipper Thompson.

“This orchestra has never before appeared at Texas Tech,” said Christopher Smith, director of the Vernacular Music Center. “The quaint folkloric dancing, the powerful modernist avant-garde choreography and traditional costume are all new and unique for Lubbock audiences.”

The fictional group performing is a post-1985 reincarnation of a Soviet-era “Bassanda National Radio Orchestra.” The orchestra is an ensemble of strings, voices and dancers from the Texas Tech Celtic Ensemble, Balkan Ensemble and Early Music Ensemble. Music is inspired by Celtic, English, Appalachian, Balkan, Caribbean and Scandinavian music and dance traditions.

“It’s quite reminiscent of certain kinds of world-building computer games,” Smith said. “Of course, it also goes back to the world-building activities of writers like George R.R. Martin and J.R.R. Tolkein.”

The fictitious Eagle’s Heart Sisters modern dance company with choreographer Nicole Wesley, theater and dance professor, will perform original work alongside Elegant Savages Orchestra.

The performance is free and open to the public.

The event is sponsored by Texas Tech’s School of Music with the Vernacular Music Center, College of Visual & Performing Arts, Celtic Caprock Association and the Roots Music Institute.

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School of Music
The School of Music

The School of Music is part of the College of Visual and Performing Arts.

With more than 500 students, the size is ideal for creating larger ensembles as well as ensuring individual attention with private study.

Faculty includes a performing specialist on all band and orchestral instruments as well as piano, voice, organ, harp and guitar, and specialists in conducting, composition, electronic music, music education, musicology, world music and music theory.

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