CHAUTAUQUA - Music lovers will have a rare opportunity this evening, to attend the premiere of a new composition, performed by the Chautauqua Symphony Orchestra, in the Chautauqua Amphitheater.
The work is titled ''Baba Yaga,'' and it was composed by Michael Colina. Performing the solo violin part will be Anastasia Khistruk.
We spoke with Colina, recently by telephone, as he was preparing to come to our area for his premiere.
Composer Michael Colina, left, and conductor Ira Levin, are pictured at the grave of the composer Felix Mendelssohn in Germany. Colina has created a violin concerto called ‘‘Baba Yaga,’’ which will be performed at Chautauqua today, under the baton of Levin.
''Baba Yaga is the name of a folklore figure from Russia and Eastern Europe,'' Colina told us. ''She is used by mothers, to try to enforce good behavior from their children by telling them that if they don't behave, Baba Yaga will get them. But, she seems to have two natures, and on rare occasions will give good and helpful advice to people who need it.''
The composer said there isn't a specific program to his composition, but there are passages which evoke both the fearsome child stealer and the helpful sage.
''I've been coming to Chautauqua for about 10 years,'' he said. ''I've been a friend for many years of Rebecca Penneys, who is the chairman of the piano department there. The trio she founded, the New Arts Trio, have performed a number of my compositions. She encouraged me to get a recording of my work and send it to Marty Merkeley, the Institution's Vice President for Programming.''
In recent years, during the absence of a music director for the CSO, Merkeley has been performing that role, in addition to his regular duties.
''Marty liked the recording, and he found a slot in the 2012 season and programmed it,'' Colina said.
Colina is an American-born composer, of Cuban ancestry. He began his career as a Grammy-winning composer of jazz and popular music. In 2001, he switched to classical music. In 2011, he had two world premieres of his music, the first at New York's Carnegie Hall, and the second at London's Cadogan Hall, home of the Royal Philharmonic Orchestra.
Conducting the CSO will be Ira Levin. Levin was born in Chicago, and began serious study at the age of 12, at Northwestern University's School of Music. ''It's interesting, that this will be Ira's American debut, conducting an orchestra, although he was born here,'' Colina said. ''He has conducted orchestras and operas all over Europe, and in Asia and in South America, and made a long list of recordings, but somehow he has just never conducted here, before now.''
Readers who are curious should be aware, there is no connection beyond sharing a name, between conductor Levin and the Ira Levin who wrote "Rosemary's Baby," "The Boys From Brazil," and many other bestselling novels.
''I've been working with Ira for more than 20 years,'' Colina said. ''He will also conduct a work by Dmitri Shostakovich, so it will be a Russian evening.''
Colina believes that musicians will enjoy the element of spontaneity which he has tried to build into ''Baba Yaga.'' ''After working in the jazz medium for all those years, I have come to love improvisation. Classical musicians rarely get to improvise, but I permit it in my classical works.'' he said.
Following today's concert, Colina will be travelling first to New York City, where his work will be performed at a music festival by Imani Winds, and then to Jacksonville, Florida, where the symphony has commissioned a work for their 2012-13 season of performances.
The concert by the Chautauqua Symphony Orchestra, under the baton of Ira Levin, and featuring the composition of Michael Colina will begin at 8:15 p.m., in the Chautauqua Amphitheater.