This is the second of Kubian’s compositions to be premiered by the NJSO. The concert will also feature Tchaikovsky’s swan song, Symphony No. 6, Pathétique and Rachmaninoff’s Rhapsody on a Theme of Paganini. O for a Muse of Fire is the last installment in this season’s New Jersey Roots Project, a program, now in its fifth season, that spotlights talented musical voices from New Jersey’s past and present.
Larger than life questions and ideas attract Kubian to composition. His first piece for the NJSO, 3-2-1, which the orchestra debuted in the 2007-2008 season, is a vision of the universe expanding and contracting as discussed in an article in Scientific American. Both works tackle large questions, whether it is our place in the universe or the extent of a king’s power. The new work dramatizes the Battle of Agincourt, which cemented Henry V as the king of England and France. A king’s ability to send people to their death lies at the center of the work and according to Kubian, what relates the piece to the concert as a whole, “it’s a relationship about death [King] Henry has to make the decision to send people to die.”
In addition to his work as a composer, Kubian plays violin and the Theremin in NJSO . This dual role was common in centuries past, but today it is rarely seen. He has also written for television, reworking the main theme of National Geographic’s Really Wild Animals series, and working for the Bronx Zoo, scoring advertisements in all five boroughs. This work has given him recognition; still his roots in New Jersey and with NJSO will always be a part of his work. “I saw NJSO as a young adult and it feels like coming full circle.”
After its March 19 premiere at Bergen PAC in Englewood, O for a Muse of Fire and the rest of the NJSO program move to the Richardson Auditorium in Princeton (March 20); the Count Basie Theater in Red Bank (March 21); and the State Theatre in New Brunswick (March 22).