CEDAR RAPIDS — Ernest Hemingway lived a turbulent life, and “Tales of Hemingway,” as performed Saturday evening by cellist Zuill Bailey and Orchestra Iowa, evoked the adventures of the famous American writer.
Cedar Rapids native Michael Daugherty’s Grammy-winning concerto brings to life four of Hemingway’s well-known novels and stories — “Big Two-Hearted River,” “For Whom the Bell Tolls,” “The Old Man and the Sea” and “The Sun Also Rises.”
Bailey, a Grammy-winning cellist, plays with a passion that creates more than just music with his instrument. When his fingers slide up and down the fingerboard in “The Old Man and the Sea,” it creates what sounds like seagulls flying above the boat piloted by the old man, Santiago, as he tries to finally catch a giant marlin.
Similarly, Daugherty’s music for “The Sun Also Rises” evokes an image of the joyous fiesta during the running of bulls in Pamplona, Spain. Hemingway’s character in the book, Jake Barnes, bitter and wounded by war, makes the journey to Pamplona for the annual event.
Bailey and Orchestra Iowa were in perfect sync throughout the performance, which was enhanced with the projection of slides showing Hemingway at various locales and quotes from his works.
Orchestra Iowa followed the Daugherty concerto with a performance of “My Name is Amanda Todd,” a composition by Jocelyn Morlock that was inspired by a British Columbia teenager who was the victim of cyberbullying. Todd, who tried to stand up for herself and posted a YouTube video using flash cards to tell her story, ultimately committed suicide.
Foundation 2, a Cedar Rapids organization that provides counseling and other services to those with mental illness, provided a video of Amanda Todd that was shown during performance. A local teenager, using flash cards to tell her story of coping with anxiety and panic attacks, created a powerful visual statement.
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Bookending Saturday’s Masterworks concert at the Paramount Theatre in Cedar Rapids were Ludwig van Beethoven’s “Coriolan Overture” and Robert Schumann’s Symphony No. 4 in D minor.
The selections were in keeping with the theme of authors, composers and individuals coping with mental illness. Beethoven briefly considered suicide when he realized he was losing his hearing, and Schumann spent his final years in a private asylum.