The Arizona Friends of Chamber Music will open their 63rd season Wednesday with the oldest chamber ensemble in the world playing one of the newest chamber pieces in the world.
The Czech Nonet will give the world premiere of Tucson composer Daniel Asia's Nonet, a piece commissioned for the Prague-based nine-piece by the Utah-based Barlow Endowment for Music Composition at Brigham Young University. The commission also was supported by Arizona Friends and Green Valley resident Wesley Green.
Asia said members of the Czech Nonet, founded in 1924, suggested he write them a piece after meeting Asia in Prague in 2007. The University of Arizona composition professor was in Czechoslovakia recording and was introduced to the ensemble by his manager, who also is their manager.
Asia said the meeting led to casual conversations, which gave birth to musical suggestions and the proposition of the commission. But the group told Asia they had no money to pay him, and neither did their country.
That's when Asia turned to the BYU endowment, whose mission is to finance contemporary composers.
Asia said Arizona Friends of Chamber Music agreed to contribute to the commission and host the Czech Nonet in the world premiere.
Asia describes the whole episode from start to finish as serendipitous.
His Nonet has six movements including three that are less than a minute long. The short movements, which are three different takes on the same material, were inspired by a short chapter in Herman Melville's "Moby Dick."
"You don't have to feel like you're always writing something deep, complex," Asia explained.
Asia's 14-minute work has varied emotional expressions throughout, going from intense and introspective, to melancholy and almost light and dancelike, "but never staying in the same place for very long," he said.
If you go
The Czech Nonet
• Presented by: Arizona Friends of Chamber Music.
• When: 8 p.m. Wednesday.
• Where: Leo Rich Theater, 260 S. Church Ave.
• Tickets: $25 at the door or in advance by calling 577-3769.
• Program: Isa Krejci's Nonet Divertimento
Daniel Asia's Nonet (world premiere)
Mozart's Horn Quintet
Debussy's Suite Bergamasque
Wagner's "Siegfried Idyll"