Shelby Blalock finalist for American Prize in Composition

Shelby Rawlings Blalock, alum from 2017, was recently announced as a finalist for the American Prize in Composition with her piece entitled Out of Ashes! To hear her piece, click here

“Out of Ashes” is a journey from trauma and loss, to hope and new life. The title was inspired by the legend of the Phoenix, who is said to be reborn out of ashes after dying in flames. “Out of Ashes” begins in the wake of the fiery death, when the Phoenix starts to rise to life. The work can be interpreted strictly as a retelling of the legend, as a story of human tragedy and triumph, or as the miracle of Creation––when chaos was transformed into beauty and order.

The piece is structured around two main themes, which are varied and interspersed throughout. The first theme is introduced by the cellos and bassoons and represents turmoil and despair. The second theme, representing peace and hope, is not heard in its entirety until the later half of the work. Variations of the second theme begin in the trombones and horns shortly after the first theme is introduced, and over the course of the composition, the second theme slowly emerges in its fullness. At the finale, the Despair theme sounds in the brass section one last time, but it is transformed into a victorious E major chord at the very end.

This is a recording of the world premiere of “Out of Ashes,” performed by the Nashville Philharmonic Orchestra and conducted by Chris Norton.