World Premiere of Emerging Black Composer Project Winner Happening at Davies Symphony Hall

Jonathan Bingham, emerging black composers project

Composer Jonathan Bingham.

The National Brass Ensemble performs Jonathan Bingham’s “DEIFIED,” conducted by San Francisco Opera’s Eun Sun Kim.

By Mark Taylor

It’s a work months in the making and unlike anything you may have heard before. The world premiere of composer Jonathan Bingham’s DEIFIED June 20 features the return of the National Brass Ensemble, and is conducted by San Francisco Opera’s Music Director Eun Sun Kim.

In creating this commission, Bingham was inspired by storytelling from an unlikely source, one decidedly outside of classical music. “DEIFIED is, in part, influenced by the narrative structure of the film Memento. It’s comprised of two ‘narratives’—one more rhythmic, the other, melodic,” Bingham said. This is the first time Bingham will have his work premiere at Davies Symphony Hall and on a scale this size.

Bingham was one of four composers selected as prize winners in the inaugural Emerging Black Composers Project. In 2021, composer Trevor Weston won a $15,000 commissioning fee, and Sumi Tonooka and Shawn Okpebholo won additional prizes. A collaboration between SFCM and the San Francisco Symphony, the Emerging Black Composers Project is a ten-year commitment to spotlight early-career Black American composers and their music. The performance also marks the return of the National Brass Ensemble, a collection of brass players from top orchestras in North America who first came together in 2014. 

For listeners at Davies Symphony Hall, Bingham's work represents a duet of sorts, “The piece alternates between the two narratives in a pattern that allows the former to decay measure by measure as the latter comes to surface in the same way,” Bingham continued. “The process is then reversed, completing a palindrome before having both ‘narratives’ played simultaneously in the finale. The palindromic name, “DEIFIED” reflects the structure of the work.”

In addition to Bingham’s premiere, the performance features Richard Strauss’ Vienna Philharmonic Fanfare and SF Symphony Principal Trombone and San Francisco Conservatory of Music Professor Timothy Higgins’ new compilation arrangement of Richard Wagner’s Ring Cycle, titled The Ring.

Guests are invited to purchase tickets for this event at Davies Symphony Hall on June 20 at 7:00 PM.