The Orlando Philharmonic Orchestra’s composer-in-residence prepares to premiere a new, ambitious work. By Jay Boyar
Stella Sung gets around. Or, rather, her music does.
The Orlando Philharmonic Orchestra’s composer-in-residence has written works that have been performed throughout the country and around the world—from New York’s Carnegie Hall to Boston’s Symphony Hall, from the Schauspielhaus in Berlin to the Sydney Opera House in Australia.
For a time, Sung’s focus as a composer had been on such archetypically American subjects as Abraham Lincoln (with a piece called Lincoln’s Battle) and artist Norman Rockwell (Rockwell Reflections). But her latest composition stakes out new territory.
“This is the largest piece that I’ve done to date,” says Sung, a native Floridian who has lived in Orlando since 1987. “It’s 31 minutes complete, nonstop music for full orchestra, and it has a multimedia component to it.”
Set to premiere this month with the Orlando Phil, The Circle Closes is a somewhat abstract piece that will be performed with what the composer calls “sophisticated light design” by a former artist with Cirque du Soleil. The piece will comprise the entire second part of a program called Color Cathedral.
“This whole program, every piece, has something to do with color, with lighting, with glass, with sound,” explains Sung, who has taught in UCF’s music department and currently serves as director of the school’s Center for Research and Education in Arts, Technology and Entertainment. Her opening acts, so to speak, will include Rimsky-Korsakov’s Russian Easter Overture, Debussy’s Sunken Cathedral and Respighi’s Church Windows.
In addition to incorporating complex lighting, The Circle Closes will feature the sounds of four crystal “singing bowls” that Sung says are more typically used “in meditation and healing practices.” Her aim, however, is aesthetic and, in terms of the piece’s title, rather personal.
“In some sense, maybe it symbolizes something to me,” says the composer, who notes that she turned 50 in September. “It’s a milestone.”
April 17, 8 p.m. $13-$65. Bob Carr Performing Arts Centre. 407-770-0071. orlandophil.org.
Home Is Where the Films Are
April 9–April 18 More than 160 American and international independent films will appear on local screens as the Florida Film Festival marks its 19th year. This year, Enzian Theater’s cinematic celebration explores movies that evoke a feeling of home, and offers a wide array of food and wine to ensure no sense is left wanting. Celebrity chefs The Lee Bros., Michel Nischan and Robert Stehling will create the edible art. Check online for venues, times and prices. 1300 S. Orlando Ave., Maitland. 407-629-0054. enzian.org
Through May 16 Topiary Mickey and Minnie tend tomatoes, beans, peppers and other edibles in a salute to community gardens at the 17th Epcot International Flower & Garden Festival. The flowery characters are only part of the lush landscape on view at this garden-centered gala. Top horticulturists demonstrate advanced gardening techniques from around the world. A Florida Farmer’s Market in Garden Town shows off the state’s bounty. Pixie Hollow Fairy Garden features topiaries of Tinker Bell and her friends, along with thousands of real butterflies. Guests can also enjoy a series of live Flower Power concerts featuring artists from the 1960s and ’70s such as Tony Orlando, Herman’s Hermits starring Peter Noone, Davy Jones and Chubby Checker. Festival events, shows and exhibits are included in Epcot admission. 407-934-7639. disneyworld.com/flower —J.G.T.
April 17 University of Central Florida’s inaugural Book Festival features dozens of national and local authors, including Miami Herald columnist Carl Hiaasen, one of America’s best satirical writers; United States Poet Laureate 2001-2003 Billy Collins; comic book creator Robert Venditti and many more, who will appear in panel discussions and sign books. Exhibits, book sales, book appraisals and children’s activities round out the day. 9 a.m.-5:30 p.m. Free. UCF Arena. education.ucf.edu/bookfest —J.G.T.
Man of the Theater
April 10 Because Philip Seymour Hoffman has made such a loud splash in movies like Cold Mountain, Magnolia, Doubt and Capote (for which he won an Oscar), it’s easy to overlook his longstanding commitment to live theater. He has, for example, received Tony nominations for his performances on Broadway in True West and Long Day’s Journey Into Night. And since 1995, he’s been an active member of New York’s LAByrinth Theater Company. This eternally scruffy but ever-surprising actor will celebrate both film and theater by appearing in An Evening with Philip Seymour Hoffman, in which he’ll discuss his remarkable career. The event is part of the 10-day Playfest! The Harriett Lake Festival of New Plays. 7:30 p.m., $50-$100. Lowndes Shakespeare Center, 812 E. Rollins St., Orlando. 407-447-1700. orlandoshakes.org —J.B.