Performances Thursday and Friday at Barking Legs Theater will feature the premiere of "These Three," a tone poem composed by Jonathan McNair, pictured.

If you go

› What: “These Three: Faith, Hope and Love”

› Where: Barking Legs Theater, 1307 Dodds Ave.

› When: 7:30 p.m. Thursday-Friday, June 14-15

› Admission: $20 or $10 for students

› For more information: 423-624-5347



Local musicians have partnered with production designers and graphic artists to form ensembles of strings, voice and oboe for two special evenings of chamber music and poetry at Barking Legs Theater.

Contemporary, Collaborative, Community Musical Arts Projects will present "These Three: Faith, Hope and Love" in performances Thursday and Friday, June 14-15, at 7:30 p.m.

The concert will feature the world premiere of "These Three," a tone poem written by composer and UTC professor Jonathan McNair honoring the memory of Christian Sinclair Rushing.

Rushing was a popular blogger whose was an anticipated weekly read for his online followers. His close friend, Roy Wroth, sought out McNair and commissioned the work.

McNair says Rushing worked with Stroud Watson decades ago during the visioning efforts to revitalize downtown Chattanooga. Although McNair didn't know Rushing personally, he felt as thought he came to know the man through stories he was told by Wroth and others about the work Rushing did.

"Christian had a real love for Chattanooga and passion for making urban spaces inviting for people. It didn't necessarily mean building something new, it might be adapting things to make them more appealing," says McNair.

The title "These Three" came from the biblical verse in 1 Corinthians 13:13 — the faith, hope and love verse, which McNair says Rushing referenced in a letter to his employees.

"In writing this music, I tried to think about Christian with his vision for Chattanooga and urban living in general, with his passion for his family, his co-workers, his friends and with this scripture verse in mind," says the composer.

"I was trying to balance that positive sense of the urban landscape and energy of the city in the music with events of loss and grief and other kinds of more tender emotions," says the composer. "There is both in the music and they co-exist by starting with the uplifting, energetic theme, then slower, more like an elergy music, then a passionate, almost conflictual, music as well."

McNair says the premiere will be played by string quartet, but "These Three" is written for a larger ensemble of woodwinds, strings and some brass.

The string quartet is made up of Sheri Peck, first violin; Bryony Stroud Watson, second violin; Metiney Suwanawongse, viola; and Annie Camp, cello.

"The music captures a variety of emotive states, moods or character traits — even attempting to address the notion of an urbanscape, albeit obliquely. It addresses the reality of conflict, tragedy and resolution or making peace with one's life," says McNair of "These Three."

The cover art of McNair's score was created by Amanda Brazier, also part of the commission honoring Rushing.

In all, the project has been about two years in the making from commission to performance, says McNair.

Also on the program is the Tennessee premiere of "Fantasy Variations on a Theme of Bela Bartok" for oboe and string quartet, featuring oboist Carey Shinbaum.

This work was written by composer Stephen Michael Gryc for Humbert Lucarelli, famed virtuoso oboist and professor at the Hartt School of Music in Hartford, Connecticut.

McNair has also composed a piece using two poems by novelist, environmental activist and farmer Wendell Berry, "The Want of Peace – The Peace of Wild Things," which will be sung by Harv Wileman, accompanied by string quartet.

McNair composed the Berry piece in 2009, adapted a string orchestra version of it for a CSO chamber concert two years ago and has adapted it again for Wileman's voice.

Wileman will also perform the Samuel Barber work "Dover Beach," set to music for string quartet and voice by McNair.

The poems of Berry and Arnold will be read by Marcus Ellsworth.

Allen Liu, a recent graduate of McCallie School who will attend Princeton in the fall, will perform violin duets with Bryony Watson. The pair will play four movements from Reinhold Gliere's Duets for Violin, Opus 49.

For more information about Contemporary, Collaborative, Community Musical Arts Projects, contact 423-664-4837.


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