Thursday, April 28, 2016

Kip Winger to Release First Classical Album

Conversations with Nijinsky is the centerpiece of Kip Winger's debut album as a classical composer.

Performed by the San Francisco Ballet Orchestra with Martin West conducting, and recorded by Grammy-winning recording engineer Leslie Ann Jones, Winger's world-premiere recording declares loudly and clearly that, while he may be the front man of the rock band Winger, he is a force to be reckoned with as a classical composer.

"Kip Winger has captured my father's heart and soul. Many have been inspired by Nijinsky in words and dance, but no one, until now, in music. Nijinsky was inspired by the music he heard. And now, Kip Winger reminds us of Nijinsky's genius with his work," said Dame Tamara Nijinsky, the daughter of the iconic dancer and choreographer Vaslav Nijinsky upon hearing Kip Winger's newly-composed Conversations with Nijinsky, a four-movement musical tribute to the artistry and life of Nijinsky.

The album also includes a recording of Winger's ballet, Ghosts, a composition that has finally made its way to CD after a nine-year odyssey. World-renowned choreographer Christopher Wheeldon has been a champion of the piece ever since Winger sent him his first sketch of Ghosts in 2007. After convincing the composer to add four minutes to the score, Wheeldon subsequently choreographed a ballet that ran in the San Francisco Ballet repertoire for four years, with performances at Lincoln Center in New York, Sadler's Wells Theatre in London, the War Memorial Opera House in San Francisco, and the Théâtre du Châtelet in Paris.

Winger is no stranger to ballet, having studied it since he was 16 as an extension of his interest in martial arts. His exposure over the years to the many ballet scores of Tchaikovsky, Ravel, Stravinsky and Debussy made the form a natural choice as he began to explore classical composition.

But the transition to classical composing was no overnight decision. Winger dug deep into the process, studying ear training and composition with such prominent teachers as Richard Danielpour, Michael Kurek and Richard Hermann. His traditional approach has resulted in commissions from the Colorado Symphony Orchestra, Sun River Music Festival (Oregon), and the Tucson Symphony. Winger's partnership with Martin West and the award-winning San Francisco Ballet Orchestra, which developed during the Ghost performances, culminated in the orchestra's commitment to Winger's music and this recording in particular.

The final work featured on the album, an adagio titled A Parting Grace, is a chamber piece which Winger – from his unique perspective as both a composer and a dancer – sees as yet another link to ballet. Winger says he "sees" all of his music as dance, subscribing to George Balanchine's idea that we should "see the music, hear the Dance." Winger's debut album enables the listener to do just that.