Augustana College printing logo

Bancks composition 'Into the Wild' going to Argentina

April  26, 2016

Boundary Waters (USDA Forest Service)

A new composition by Augustana's Jacob Bancks will be performed in Argentina this summer by the Greater Twin Cities Youth Symphonies on tour.

Bancks wrote the two-movement piece, "Into the Wild," especially for the youth symphony, based in Minneapolis-St. Paul. His talents were requested by Mark Russell Smith, artistic director of the youth symphony and also conductor of the Quad City Symphony Orchestra.

(Smith and Bancks recently were interviewed about the composition by Minnesota Public Radio.)

Smith was familiar with Bancks' work, especially "Rock Island Line," commissioned and debuted by the QCSO in 2014.

"His sense of color, his rhythmic energy, was a perfect match for the youth and the kind of vivid playing I like to promote with the GTCY symphony," Smith said.

Bancks grew up in Fairmount, Minn., a small town in the southern part of the state. He said part of his inspiration for the piece was "local."

"I wanted to bring Minnesota with us to Argentina. And I wanted something also that the musicians who are premiering it would be able to connect with on kind of a personal, local level," he said.

"There's a certain extent to which, early on when I was composing, I really didn't know who I was writing for, and I didn't know where I was coming from. So it's been really important to me, since "Rock Island Line," which I just wrote a couple year ago, to know what your roots are and then to be able to share them with other people."

The Boundary Waters and Summit Avenue

The first movement of "Into the Wild" was inspired by the Minnesota Boundary Waters. Bancks said he has many great memories of that wilderness as a child on camping trips there.

"The wilderness is spectacular, so the idea of the first movement of the piece is this sort of experience from water's edge to water's edge and the kind of amazing quiet you can find between those.

"And, of course, the other great love of mine is the work of F. Scott Fitzgerald. He did write "This Side of Paradise" on Summit Avenue in St. Paul. So to contrast the very natural feel of the first movement, I took his title for my second movement, which depicts a very different kind of wilderness.

"But they're both wildernesses. One is sort of an urban moral wilderness, and the other is sort of a literal wilderness."

Smith said the young musicians like the composition very much, which Bancks did not "dumb down" for a youth symphony. "It's a tremendous challenge. It's also playable," he said.

The tour program also includes Brahms Symphony No. 2, and Smith said he thinks audiences will enjoy the contrast between the two works.

Bancks' composition for the youth symphony was made possible by the Minnesota Commissioning. It premiered April 24 in Minneapolis. For more on the composition, see the GTCY newsletter.