Three Minutes, Three Questions with Violinist Patrick Conlon

Three Minutes, Three Questions with Violinist Patrick Conlon


Patrick Conlon is clearly a trusted contributor to the Fort Smith Symphony: He was accorded 23 minutes of the season’s final concert to premiere a new piece of music.

“Patrick is our principal second violin, which means he leads the second violin section of the symphony,” explains John Jeter, the symphony’s music director. “We have known him for years. We have collaborated with him in the past as a composer. His background in incredibly varied as a violinist, composer, film music composer/producer, sound technology, etc.”

And, Jeter adds, Conlon’s “new piece is terrific — lots of fun and much musical variety. The ‘classics’ have stood the test of time but at one point were all ‘new’ pieces. Performing new music is so important! This is an extremely accessible piece.”

Conlon, whose day job is as assistant director of the Academy of Contemporary Music at the University of Central Oklahoma, answered these questions for What’s Up! prior to the debut May 11 of “Wubwubwub.”

Q. What inspired this piece of music?

A. “Wubwubwub” was sort of a culmination of all of the things that I am into day to day as a performer/composer/producer. As a performer, I really love genre bending, so there are influences from fiddle techniques, hip-hop, trap, reggaeton, dubstep and a bunch of other electronic dance music and EDM adjacent genres. It’s also a duo-concerto for myself and my partner-in-crime, Christina Giacona, so that’s such a cool thing to get to put together.

As a composer, I’m really a big nerd when it comes to classical music history and having my compositions be part of that repertoire, so it’s a pretty standard four-movement big romantic concerto structure. I’m also doing an homage to Luciano Berio’s “Sinfonia” in the third movement where we quote a ton of different classical pieces by sampling my own set of influences.

As a producer, I’m really into the actual physics and music theory of what’s happening with guitar pedals, reverbs, EQs, etc., and so this piece really tries to emulate electronic and analog production techniques through purely acoustic orchestrations.

Q. What’s it been like working with John and the symphony to bring it to its first performance?

A. I cannot say enough about how my relationship with John has grown my artistic career and voice. This is the sort of supportive and collaborative relationship with a music director that you dream of having as a composer. An orchestra letting you write a full 23 minute piece is really an incredible honor, investment and risk that they’re taking in your work.

Q. What do you hope it says to audiences?

A. One of my favorite things to do as a composer is have different levels of interest for different listeners. So I think about the zoomed-out version of the concerto — the first movement is really big and orchestral, the second movement is pretty and interesting, the third is groovy and then has cadenzas and all sorts of pyrotechnics, and the fourth is a blast — so even a kid who doesn’t know anything about classical music should be caught by the big colors and feel changes and pacing. But if you zoom in, you get all the little quotes, and production technique emulations, what I hope are really interesting orchestral sounds, and a sort of deep-level insider interest as well. I like my music to always play to both of those audiences.



Fort Smith Symphony:

It’s Time For Pictures

WHEN — 7:30 p.m. May 11

WHERE — ArcBest Performing Arts Center in Fort Smith

COST — $20-$50

INFO — 452-7575

BONUS — The performance also includes Sergei Prokofiev’s Piano Concerto No. 3 featuring Irish pianist Michael McHale & Mussorgsky/Ravel’s “Pictures at an Exhibition.”

Categories: Music