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Tobias Picker’s The Encantadas in Boston

Sep. 01, 2006

Tobias Picker's The Encantadas opens the concert season of the Boston University Symphony Orchesta on Thursday, September 28 at the Tsai Performance Center in Boston. David Hoose conducts and James Petosa, Director of the School of Theater Arts, narrates. The Encantadas is paired on this concert with Tchaikovsky's Fifth Symphony. The text to Tobias Picker's contemporary take on the genre of melodrama is drawn from Herman Melville's vivid and poetic descriptions of the sea-swept Galapagos Islands, originally written for Collier's Magazine. Melville visited the Galapagos in 1841, as part of a whaling voyage he undertook to gather background material for Moby Dick. Picker's work consists of six movements, each of which evokes a different picture of life in the islands' ecuatorial wilderness. The composer capitalizes on the enchantment implicit in Melville's title and so richly developed in the narration, aptly probing the sinister undercurrent that emerges from the text.

The Encantadas was commissioned by the Albany Academy in celebration of their 175th anniversary, and premiered by the Albany Symphony Orchestra with Michael Arkin as narrator in 1983 at the Troy Savings Bank Music Hall and the Albany Palace Theatre. It has been recorded with English, German and Japanese narration (by Sir John Gielgud, Will Quadfleg, and Mariko Miyagi, respectively), performed in English, Spanish, Portuguese, German, and Japanese, and translated into Rumanian. The work was also adapted for chamber orchestra, to accompany the choreographic premiere. This smaller version, commissioned by the Saint Paul Chamber Orchestra, was conducted by Pinchas Zukerman and narrated by the composer both in St. Paul and Minneapolis and on tour. The piece has been performed by the Houston, Chicago, and Vancouver Symphony Orchestras as well as The Minnesota Orchestra and others, many times featuring the composer as narrator. Along with such classics as Stravinsky's L'histoire du soldat (1918), Walton's Façade (1926), Prokofiev's Peter and the Wolf (1936) and Copland's Lincoln Portrait (1942), Picker's i is now a key addition to these distinguished ranks.

For more information about Tobias Picker’s life and work please visit More about Boston University College of Fine Arts can be found at