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"Embracing the Influence" is One World Symphony’s continuing exploration of how classical music connects past with present.

As One World Symphony music director David Hong explained via e-mail, "We are exploring this question in a series of concerts designed to examine the nature of ’influence’ in contemporary music by juxtaposing new works with those in the accepted canon."

The first program of their 2003-04 series is "Bach to Brazil: A Cellobration," on Sept. 26, a punning program that includes cello music by Bach and Brazilian composer Heitor Villa-Lobos, whose own music was influenced by the 18th-century master.

"Where else could our program begin but with one of [Bach’s] epochal works, the intimate and intense Cello Suite in C Minor?" Hong asks. "Years later and a continent away, Villa-Lobos penned his homage to Bach’s genius, the lyrical and inventive Bachianas Brasilieriras No. 5."

But the concert doesn’t simply juxtapose Bach and Villa-Lobos; Frenchman Olivier Messiaen, who wrote his sublime "Quartet for the End of Time" while in a Nazi prison camp, is represented by that work’s "Extatique Lent" movement, set to choreography by Crown Heights resident Take Ueyama, of the Paul Taylor Dance Company.

"I always wanted to perform [that] incredibly powerful and intimate movement with dance choreography," Hong explains. "Take and I agreed that this work would fit into the program. The immediate challenges for a dancer-choreographer in portraying Messiaen’s music is that [it] does not dance, move, jump [or] swing outwardly. Take and his dancers have found a convincing way to connect to the music."

Two homages by contemporary composers round out the program: Joan Tower’s "Tres Lent - Hommage a Messiaen" (1994), and the local premiere of Robert Below’s "Homage to Villa-Lobos for Cello Orchestra" (1994).

Among the cellists performing in "Cellobration" are Korean-born Amy Kim, Carroll Gardens resident Simone Uranovsky, Sophie Shao, Brian Gaona and Elizabeth Loy.

One World Symphony will perform Sept. 26 at 8 pm at the Church of St. Ann and the Holy Trinity, located at the corner of Montague and Clinton streets in Brooklyn Heights. Tickets are $20, $10 for students. For more information, log onto

Updated 4:00 pm, November 10, 2010
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