Columbus Composer Tony Zilincik And Glass Artist Jack Gramann Unveil New Works

May 14, 2019

You might be used to hearing tubas doing oom-pahs down in the basement of the musical range. But the world premiere of Columbus composer and tubist Tony Zilincik’s Tuba Concerto on Sunday afternoon might instead have you looking up at the stars.

Zilincik and the McConnell Arts Center Chamber Orchestra will perform Minimalists & More, a program featuring works by arch-minimalist composers Philip Glass and John Adams, a well as by Arvo Pärt and Ernest Bloch, and the world premiere of Zilincik’s Tuba Concerto, under the direction of the chamber orchestra's artistic and music director, Antoine Clark.

The concert will take place Sunday, May 19 at 3 p.m. in the Bronwynn Theatre of the McConnell Arts Center, in Worthington.

Sunday’s concert is the third and final performance on the McConnell Arts Center Chamber Orchestra’s 2018-19 Masterworks series, which has explored the theme Brass & Glass. Like the two previous concerts on this series, Sunday’s concert will also mark the unveiling of a new glass artwork, "Crescent," by glass artist and the chamber orchestra's artist-in-residence Jack Gramann.

Tubist and composer Tony Zilincik, associate professor of music at Capital University's Conservatory of Music
Credit Tim Perdue

Glass, in more than one sense, led Clark to the Minimalists & More theme for Sunday’s concert.

“I was thinking about composers and how could I explore the idea of glass,” Clark said. “And one of the first composers who came to mind was Philip Glass, which led me to minimalism.”

The glass connection continues with Zilincik’s Tuba Concerto. Associate professor of music at Capital University's Conservatory of Music, Zilincik says the thematic concept for his Tuba Concerto arose from watching Gramann at work in his glass studio.

Glass artist Jack Gramann is the McConnell Arts Center Chamber Orchestra's artist-in-residence.

“I’m a big science fan,” Zilincik said in a recent interview. “I’ve always been intrigued by space and fire, and I thought, fire, stars – OK, let’s talk about stars and creation. Because Jack is taking, basically, a molten ball of glass and turning it into these beautiful shapes.”

Zilincik says he then revisited the writings of astronomer and philosopher Carl Sagan, whom he describes as one of his “great heroes.”

“And I remembered him and one of his great quotes where he said, we are all star stuff – everything that we are comes from the heart of a dying star,” Zilincik said. “And I thought, that’s really fantastic. Star – created in the fire, created in the heat. And that was the jumping-off point for the piece.”

Jack Gramann created "Forward March" for the first concert of the McConnell Arts Center Chamber Orchestra's 2018-19 Brass & Glass concert series.
Credit Stef Streb / Jack Gramann

Zilincik says his concerto is not stylistically minimalist but that, as a blend of various musical styles and idioms – including traditional musics of Ghana and Nigeria – it complements the minimalist works on Sunday’s program.

“I just finally said, after this much time, why not?” he said. “Let’s explore all these other ideas that have been in my musical thinking but have never made it into my composing.”

Gramann’s new work of glass art, likewise, will complement the minimalist works on the program. Although Gramann's piece was directly inspired by Bloch’s Concerto Grosso No. 1, Gramann says there are some conceptual similarities between how he aimed to expose the essence of the glass in his artwork and Zilincik’s fascination with the essential matter, which, Sagan says, is at the heart of stars and human beings.

Jack Gramann completed "Leitmotif: The Citizen King" for the second concert of the McConnell Arts Center Chamber Orchestra's 2018-19 Brass & Glass concert series.
Credit Jack Gramann

“That’s something that I love with glass – that metaphor that its structure and its decoration are one and the same,” Gramann said in a phone interview. “And something that I’ve really pushed in this piece is grinding and cutting through these layers to kind of show the inside of the glass.”

And, Zilincik says, if there’s anything he would like listeners to take away from experiencing his new concerto, it’s what all people have in common on the inside.

Says Zilincik, “I’m really telling a story about how we’re all made of the same stuff and, at the end, we pull all of these (different) ideas together to create ourselves.”

Antoine Clark leads tuba soloist Tony Zilincik and the McConnell Arts Center Chamber Orchestra in the world premiere of Zilincik’s Tuba Concerto and works by John Adams, Philip Glass, Arvo Pärt and Ernest Bloch during Minimalists & More, Sunday, May 19 at 3 p.m. at the McConnell Arts Center, in Worthington.