Concert Announcement

Announcing Our Opening Night Gala Celebration!

American Stories with Christylez Bacon, Evan Meier, and Yo-Yo Ma

September 29, 2022 7:30 pm, Capitol Theatre – Wheeling, WV

The WSO is excited to fully embody its artistic mission in this, a newly designed concert experience that serves as our opening night gala for the 2022-23 season.

The WSO has three main artistic principles: to highlight living American artists of all backgrounds, to create dynamic and relevant concert formats, and to promote the creativity of our musicians. At this special event, all three will be fully on display. All seven creators on this concert are living Americans: Christylez Bacon, Yo-Yo Ma, Caroline Shaw, Enrico Lopez-Yañez, John Williams and Evan Meier. They represent a variety of stories, ages, backgrounds, genders and perspectives—but they all come together on this night to celebrate “American Stories”— our theme for the season.

Our concert will begin by showcasing our commitment to innovative concert experiences as we perform Caroline Shaw’s Entr’acte. Through our unique presentation of this work, we will connect with our audience in a physical and emotional way. Caroline Shaw is one of Music Director John Devlin’s favorite composers and a remarkable talent, having won the Pulitzer Prize at the age of 30. Her uniquely American sound combines with a feeling of religiosity in this transportive piece.

Then, our entire WSO family is ecstatic to be able to welcome Yo-Yo Ma to Wheeling. Perhaps no one from the classical-music world is more recognizable for his artistry and his depth of service to humanity than is Yo-Yo Ma. We have chosen to have Mr. Ma play this concerto, written for him by John Williams, as a tribute to the relationship between these two great artists, to honor Mr. Williams’ 90th birthday year, and as part of our commitment to great American art. Thank you to Mr. Ma for joining us in Wheeling. And, we ask that you all help us to continue our celebration of this landmark anniversary year for Mr. Williams as we present “Halloween at Hogwarts” and “Jurassic Park in Concert” later this season.

Lastly— this evening will end on a truly historic note as we present the world premiere of the first commissioning project designed by our Music Director, John Devlin, in his post with the WSO. Devlin was eager to once again collaborate with the DC-based Hip-Hop artist Christylez Bacon, a musician known for his ability to blend genres and a deep respect for the history of American music. Devlin and Bacon jointly chose to collaborate with composer Evan Meier, another DC-based artist, who has a long history of taking eclectic styles of music, and combining them into orchestral compositions that have a narrative element.

This new piece, Migrations in Rhythm, explores the way that the United States has served as a point of musical intersection for so many different cultures. West African music met with Irish step dancing in Washington DC and gave birth to Go-Go in the 1970s. Black, Brazilian and Cubano music collided in NYC and gave birth to Hip-hop and trap in the 80s and 90s. Christylez will rap and use the words to tell the story of these musical migrations— and then employ beat-boxing to demonstrate the styles as they fuse into completely new forms. Here are just a few examples of musical styles and stories that are represented in this piece:

West African/Mbalax music
Irish Step Music
Brazilian Music – Bossa Nova and Samba
Cuban Music – Salsa and Rumba
Hip-hop and Trap

We can’t wait to share these American stories, old and new, with you on September 29th as we open our 2022-23 season. We are especially grateful to Yo-Yo Ma for his visit to Wheeling, and to Evan Meier and Christylez Bacon for the creation of this momentous new work. We hope that you enjoy the birth of this brand-new piece.

Yo-Yo Ma