NJSO commissions work ‘for physically distanced orchestra and choir’

NJSO dominguez


José Luis Domínguez at a New Jersey Symphony Orchestra event.

Gratias Tibi — Latin for “Thank You” — is the title of a new work by José Luis Domínguez that was commissioned for physically distanced orchestra and choir by the New Jersey Symphony Orchestra. The work is intended “to express gratitude to frontline medical and service workers,” according to a press release.

Members of the NJSO and The Montclair State University Singers will record their parts individually, and the work will have its virtual world premiere on njsymphony.org and the orchestra’s social media’s channels on June 8.

(June 5 Update: The premiere has been postponed to June 22 at 7:30 p.m. “Now is a time to listen to the voices of the Black community,” said NJSO president and CEO Gabriel van Aalst. “Issues of systemic racism and social justice should be the focus of our national conversation. We still believe in the importance of sending gratitude to the frontline medical and service workers who have been at the forefront of the ongoing pandemic response, and we look forward to sharing Gratias Tibi later this month.”)

“There are some situations that require true heroism,” said Domínguez in the press release. “First responders, doctors, nurses and everyone on the front lines — they have the skills and calling and devotion to put themselves in harm’s way. … We say ‘thank you’ every day, but sometimes those same words become more meaningful because there is a sincere intention behind them that makes an entire world of difference. I thought the most honest thing to do with this piece was to write something as simple as ‘thank you’ in Latin to make it universal. The piece is written with a full heart and humble attempt to express that very special, profound gratitude.”

“Throughout history, composers have responded to major events of their time, and José Luis’ new work speaks to this unprecedented moment,” said NJSO music director Xian Zhang. “We have all been moved by the ways musicians all over the world have found new ways to connect us from afar, and we are so grateful for the courage and sacrifice of the brave frontline workers meeting the challenges of this pandemic. Gratias Tibi expresses all of these emotions through the universal language of music.”

Domínguez is an experienced composer who frequently has conducted the New Jersey Symphony Orchestra at summer park and family concerts, and is the artistic director of the NJSO Youth Orchestras.

The NJSO describes the commission as an extension of NJSO at Home, its program offering online concert recordings and original video content. Visit NJSO at Home at njsymphony.org/njsoathome.


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