Bennington College, VAPA Building, Greenwall Auditorium, 1 College Drive, Bennington, VT 05201
ON THE PROGRAM: Fantasia for Piano and Orchestra, by Geoffrey Gee, commissioned by Sage City Symphony, with the composer on piano; Symphonie Mathis der Maler (Mathias the Painter), by Paul Hindemith; Andante moderato - Allegretto, from String Quartet in G Major, by Florence Price.
COVID PROTOCOLS: Until further notice, all current and evolving guidelines issued by the CDC, the State of Vermont, and Bennington College will be followed. Face masks and social distancing will be required at rehearsals and concerts. All musicians, visitors, and audience members must be fully vaccinated and boostered.
GEOFFREY GEE begins every musical composition at the piano, opening to the moment and playing what he hears. His aim is to create musical and sonic structures that draw the listener into a place of infinite possibility. Trained in classical piano at Indiana University and in contemporary music at Berklee College of Music, Gee composes across genres - solo piano, musical theater, film scores, and dance accompaniment - as well as for chamber ensembles and orchestra.
Gee’s five albums of original music, including the acclaimed “I’ll Be There With You,” feature the type of structured improvisations he has performed across the United States and in 18 countries around the world. In 2015 Gee made his Carnegie Hall debut with a solo piano concert at Weill Recital Hall.
With his life partner, Kimerer LaMothe, Gee has collaborated on two full-length original musicals, arranging and orchestrating “Happy If Happy When” (2017) and “Nietzsche! The Musical” (reading, 2021). In 2019 he produced the “Happy If Happy When” cast album.
Currently based in Hebron, NY, Gee lives on a 95-acre homestead with LaMothe, where they have raised their five children, milk a family cow, grow much of their own food, and prepare for regular performances in the area as the LaMothe/Gee Family. Gee serves as Upper School Music Director at Long Trail School in Dorset, VT, where he enjoys sharing his knowledge of music and helping young musicians realize their potential as creative artists.
Geoffrey Gee’s vision for “Fantasia for Piano and Orchestra” was to create sonic and musical structures in which the capabilities of the piano multiply the range and power of the orchestra, and in which the orchestra multiplies the capabilities of the piano. He developed ideas and themes that came to him while improvising, distributing the threads of each section among instruments and setting up moments of fireworks for the piano. His aim is to draw listeners into a place of infinite possibility.
The piano begins alone with dark sonic explosions. Woodwind soloists respond with melodies that invite dialog. The orchestra soon assembles and produces a jaunty tarantella, which the piano accompanies. The piano takes a turn leading the tarantella with a new theme and leads the orchestra through several episodes of increasing intensity until the ensemble is released into a dreamy atmosphere where everybody can play. After a brief interruption and silence, the piano and the orchestra explode together in a cascading series of minor chords and settle with a final resolution to C major. The piano continues to contemplate the preceding with a solo cadenza, followed by an orchestral coda in which motifs from the opening return in a new, enlightened context. It is a story of transformation through the exploration of desire and beauty.