A Conversation with Jordan Holloway, composer of “Flatiron Escapades: Celebrating 125 years Of Chautauqua”
By Liza Purvis – Colorado Chautauqua, Director, Marketing and Communications
What is your connection to Chautauqua?
Though I’m now at Carnegie Mellon in Pittsburgh pursuing my Master’s in Music Composition, I grew up in Longmont. I spent most time at Chautauqua while I was living on The Hill during my undergrad in Music Composition at CU, Boulder. Hiking the Chautauqua trails was a frequent source of relaxation and inspiration.
How did this composition come about?
I was honored to be invited by Peter Oundjian to compose something for the Colorado Music Festival 2023 season. Peter knew of my work through Chris Christoffersen, who kindly shared the virtual premiere of my first symphony with him and also from my CU Professor, Carter Pann. Professor Pann had already been asked to compose an original piece for the July 16 concert. One of the ideas Peter thought I might explore was a composition inspired by the majesty of the Flatirons and celebrating Chautauqua’s 125th anniversary. I jumped at that idea, as this place means so much to me. I’ve seen a composition of mine performed by a string orchestra before, but this will be my first live premiere with a full orchestra. I am very excited for rehearsals and the concert premiere.
What were you trying to communicate in your piece “Flatiron Escapades”?
I think mostly my appreciation for the stunning natural beauty here. I have so many great memories of looking up at The Flatirons’ distinctive angular silhouette and of hiking the tranquil forests below. One memory sticks with me especially: driving up Flagstaff Mountain and stopping regularly to look down on Boulder. On that particular day, the clouds were really low and covered the town. I felt as if I was living inside a cloud.
What orchestral motifs in the piece relate to the Flatiron landscape?
The piece has fairly consistent motifs with variations that build and change throughout. It begins with horns and low brass playing the same rhythm in different chords. That part is quite angular, which is a musical tribute to The Flatirons. In the forest passages there are lively exchanges between cellos and basses playing pizzicato as well as woodwind, xylophone and timpani. There I wanted to evoke the pleasure of hiking and the hum of all the natural activity from trees, plants and wildlife.
What is special about your piece being performed for the first time at Chautauqua Auditorium?
I’ve been fortunate to attend many wonderful concerts at Chautauqua Auditorium. I love that the space is not entirely enclosed but has more of an indoor/outdoor feel. Nature is always part of the performance at this venue. Knowing that the landscape which inspired my piece is surrounding the orchestra will be a special sensation – for me, and I hope the audience too. I really hope July 16 concertgoers will hear and feel my appreciation for this amazing place and relate strongly to those positive emotions thanks to their own experiences of hiking and attending events at Chautauqua.
What is your birthday wish for Chautauqua as it turns 125 in 2023?
Definitely, at least 125 more!