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Grammy Award-winning cellist Zuill Bailey is a graduate of the Peabody Institute of the Johns Hopkins University and the Juilliard School. Courtesy

Cheyenne Symphony Orchestra is kicking off its 2019-20 season with a jam-packed weekend that proves classical music can also be modern.

Grammy Award-winning cellist Zuill Bailey is making his first return to Cheyenne since winning the award in 2017, and he’ll perform the epic composition that Michael Daugherty wrote for him, and thus won him the best solo performance Grammy for his recording with the Nashville Symphony: “Tales of Hemingway.”

“It’s an incredible addition to the cello repertoire – it swept the Grammy Awards for best CD and best performer,” Bailey said. “It is a very special piece and it’s been incredibly well received worldwide.”

Bailey has toured the world performing this work, and he called the Cheyenne debut of the work – a concert that the orchestra is calling “Spirit of the West” – a reason for celebration. The cellist is good friends with CSO Music Director and Conductor William Intriligator, so he’s excited to work alongside him again, and the occasion is made even more special by a certain guest who will be in the audience: Daugherty.

“(Daugherty) is one of the most celebrated composers on the earth these days and to be able to continue to celebrate that with an old friend, William, it’s a rare case,” Bailey said.

Bailey said he loves this piece particularly because of the way it’s structured. Each of the four movements – “Big Two-Hearted River,” “For Whom the Bell Tolls,” “The Old Man and the Sea” and “The Sun Also Rises” – represents a different story by Hemingway. The result is a vivid, cinematic storytelling experience that Bailey said will transport people of all ages to the foreign lands in each of the stories, from the isolated terrain of Northern Michigan to the excitement in the air in Pamplona, Spain during the Running of the Bulls.

He also said the composition has changed the landscape of classical music.

“I jokingly say this is the perfect proof of a sound investment in the future of classical music,” he said. “We can certainly celebrate the past but we need to invest in the future, and the success of this work ensures a bright future for American music and classical music in general.”

Bailey will also perform a solo cello recital, “Hausmusik 1,” at 2 p.m. Oct. 13 at the Cheyenne Depot, 121 W. 15th St. Tickets ($45 for adults and $25 for students) are still available and include a reception with light appetizers.

Along with “Tales of Hemingway,” CSO will also perform Copeland’s Outdoor Overture, music from the film “The Red Pony” and the Wyoming premiere of “Transcend” by Zhou Tian, a work written in honor of the 150th anniversary of the transcontinental railroad.

“Copland’s music is very near to my heart,” Intriligator said in a news release for the concert. “I hear his love of our country in each of his pieces, whether he is musically depicting the rugged landscape of the West or paying tribute to the folksongs of eastern shakers, the American spirit comes through loud and clear.”

Niki Kottmann is the Wyoming Tribune Eagle’s features editor. She can be reached at nkottmann@wyoming

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or 307-633-3135. Follow her on Twitter @niki_mariee.

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