With a full-length orchestral 90 minute score, subsequently recorded at Skywalker Sound by the San Francisco Ballet Orchestra, this new Story Ballet adaptation of the Mark Twain classic was conceived and composed by Yeston in three Acts, for the Kansas City Ballet. Choreographed by William Whitener, with costumes by Holly Hynes, it premiered October 14, 2011 to inaugurate the opening of Kansas City, Missouri’s new Kauffman Center For The Performing Arts.
Written for full symphony orchestra, Yeston’s musical depiction of the adventures of Tom, Becky, Huck Finn, Muff Potter, and Twain’s legendary classic becomes translated to the dance, and was hailed by Alastair Macaulay, Dance Critic for The New York Times, who declared “It’s quite likely that this is the first all-new, entirely American three-act ballet: it is based on an American literary classic, has an original score by an American composer and was given its premiere by an American choreographer and company.”
Macaulay praised the musical score as “energetic, robust, warm, deliberately naïve (both ornery and innocent), in ways right for Twain. Mr. Yeston’s tuneful music with sonorities and harmonies that recall Copland, Barber and Prokofiev (“Romeo and Juliet”) ranges easily from comic to sinister, from Muff Potter’s drunkenness to a rich celebration of the Mississippi River.”
The first music sample below (scroll down) is a 14-minute Suite Yeston created drawn from the score. Opening on a bright morning in the South, the boisterous Tom enters and cavorts in the town square, he and Becky meet and fall for each other. Huck barges in and the boys horse around, build a raft, then run down to the Mississippi and launch themselves - as the mighty river swells and grows, ever widening and more powerful, and sweeps them off into adventure and legend.
“As if out of a Norman Rockwell painting…the music by composer Maury Yeston is Americana to the point where you almost expect George Gershwin to be nodding along in approval.” - Kansas City Star