Musical America, March 1991

Concert Review:   Ice Fields, Suite for Guitar and Orchestra [premiere]
(Fort Wayne Philharmonic, Stephen Paulus, conductor)

      A suite for guitar and orchestra titled Ice Fields, by Stephen Paulus, had its world premiere in Fort Wayne's Performing Arts Center on October 27[, 1990].  Paulus, currently composer-in- residence with the Atlanta Symphony, has three operas to his credit and has written extensively for orchestra, chorus and chamber groups.

      Pop guitarist Leo Kottke, a Grammy nominee and winner of numerous guitar polls, was the soloist with the Fort Wayne Philharmonic, whose music director is Ronald Ondrejka.  It was Kottke's first experience with a symphony orchestra in a concerto-like work.  The composer, who conducted, had relied on Kottke for thematic material (tunes and guitar fragments), to which he added introductions, interludes, and accompaniments for  chamber orchestra, successfully bridging popular and classical idioms.  

      Ice Fields is a five-movement affair of shifting rhythms and harmonies, capitalizing on the syncopated, right-hand style made famous by Kottke on his 12-string acoustic guitar.  The opening, "Times 12,"  was an energetic, cheerful, upbeat piece full of rhythmic complexities.  "Griddle Slide" had a bluesy style and was inspired by the Paul Bunyan legend.  Shimmering strings and percussion were added to the haunting middle section.  After a lyrical "Summer Growing Old," [sic] featuring trombone and guitar, the suite ended with a bravura, virtuosic display for guitar.  Following continued applause for both soloist and composer, the congenial guitarist entertained the audience with selections of his own jazzy, "down-home" brand of music. -- Herbert Neuchterlein

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