Tag: concert series

Twenty Seasons of Cutting Edge Concerts

I launched the Cutting Edge Concerts New Music Festival in 1998 with the purpose of presenting the music of living composers, including—but not limited to—my own work. I was eager to know what my composition colleagues were writing and to have a way of bringing their music to the public. I also knew many performers interested in new music, and the thought of putting these together was intoxicating. Now, 65 concerts and 191 composers later, Cutting Edge Concerts enters its 20th season.

And it all started with Pierre Boulez. As a doctoral student at Juilliard, I was assistant conductor to Boulez with the Juilliard Contemporary Music Ensemble. During rehearsals, I absorbed the engaging way he imparted his insights on the inner workings of the music. I was mightily impressed with his manner of speaking to audiences at his “rug” concerts which varied from first-time listeners to cognoscenti. When Boulez presented music by his composer colleagues, he interviewed them on stage, asking about their creative process. He had the unique ability to draw—even from the most recalcitrant—some vital nugget of musical significance. I remember when he interviewed Elliott Carter, whose detailed explanations of his music often incorporated many technical terms. I was amazed by the way Boulez demystified these descriptions, even making them comprehensible to my husband, a non-musician. At a reception after the concert, Boulez exhibited his continuous effort to reach “the common man” by seeking out my husband Stephan and asking his opinion about the program. Stephan told Boulez that he had succeeded in translating the stack of musical terms and details, helping to clarify a seemingly impenetrable mystery for this non-musician.

I’d like to think that some of Boulez’s talent for relating to people and to music rubbed off on me. His relationships with the composers, performers, and audience sparked the idea for the beginnings of Cutting Edge Concerts. I wanted to create and present my own series and model it on his.

Boulez was generous to his colleagues, promoting their music as well as his own, and that spirit of generosity was something else I was bent on emulating in the Cutting Edge Concert programming. I wanted to interview composers and make them feel at ease discussing their music with the audience. Above all, I wanted to avoid the off-putting formality of a prepared statement. My ability as an interviewer was tested on a number of occasions. I have had the challenge of speaking with composers whose responses were monosyllabic; I had to work hard to draw them out of their shell. I have also had the opposite problem! For instance, a well-known architect monopolized the pre-performance discussion and stretched what should have been a five-minute introduction into a half-hour lecture on his architectural accomplishments, complete with visual charts. He began the conversation by refuting the very premise that framed this particular season, “The Shape of Sound.” When I mentioned in my introduction that architecture has been called “frozen music,” his response was, “That is bunk!”

The Cassatt String Quartet performing onstage with pianist Ursula Oppens

Pianist Ursula Oppens and the Cassatt Quartet in performance during one of last year’s Cutting Edge Concerts.

Sometimes my non-speaking roles could be just as challenging. An embarrassing moment occurred one time when I volunteered to turn pages for a pianist. This pianist was very particular about exactly when she wanted the pages turned and promised to nod her head to confirm. Having had considerable experience doing this, I was not worried. At the concert, she swayed and nodded continuously, defeating any notion of which nod was the correct one. I turned the page at the wrong moment and she stopped playing in the middle of the piece to berate me. The entire concert came to a grinding halt and both the audience and I were completely stunned. Some good came of it, though. The occasion was so memorable that I wrote a piece called The Page Turner, which we later performed to the great amusement of the audience.

Dealing with a commonplace concert interruption also resulted in a new work.  Just as at every performance around the world, CEC concerts are prone to the unwelcome sounds of cellphones. I decided to dispense with the traditional pre-concert plea, and I commissioned Neil Rolnick to compose an electronic work which effectively provided the same message.  We have played it at the beginning of many of our performances ever since.

Cellphones are not the only audible irritation at CEC.  Dealing with ambient noise is also a constant challenge.  When the series was located at Greenwich House, the auditorium faced directly onto the street.  Because April evenings were often quite warm and there was no air conditioning, the only way to keep the room cool was to open the windows. There was more than one occasion when car horns intruded unanticipated pitches into a composition. At Symphony Space we also had sonic intrusions, but these came from the Thalia café next door, which often holds open mic nights for pop musicians. When the door of the theater and the door of the café were accidentally left ajar, the sound of singers of sometimes questionable ability created a dissonance that only John Cage would have appreciated!

Through my work as a conductor and composer, I have gotten to know many composers and performers. Some are now personal friends with whom I share my leisure activities. I am an avid hiker and have taken long country walks with fellow enthusiast and composer Laurie Anderson. We share a passion for nature and for animals, and during one of these walks we worked out ideas for presenting her film Hidden Within Mountains on a future CEC concert. Some are people whose music I have long admired and conducted, like Tania León, Libby Larsen, Daron Hagen, and John Harbison. Some I knew when they were students, like Andrew Norman, Kenji Bunch, and Cornelius Dufallo. And some are performers who have advocated my own music, The Cassatt String Quartet, Da Capo, Cygnus, and The American Modern Ensemble among them.

I resolved that Cutting Edge Concerts would not endorse one style but rather revel in the multiplicity of diverse styles being composed today, from the most conservative to the most experimental. The series celebrates the coexistence of this diversity and programs works without making stylistic judgments, presenting pieces by composers as varied as Valerie Coleman, Brian Ferneyhough, Philip Glass, and Steven Takasugi. Over the years, I have made a point of engaging ensembles that rehearse and perform together on a regular basis, including the Imani Winds, Loadbang, and the MIVOS String Quartet to name a few. I have found that this results in committed and polished performances.

While I always thought what we were doing was cutting edge, we actually weren’t always “Cutting Edge.” In fact, our original name was “Close Encounters,” in homage to Boulez’s “Perspective Encounters”. However, another organization was already using a very similar name, and told us we couldn’t use it. And no, we weren’t sued by Steven Spielberg.

Three concert programs from 1998: a tribute to Virgil Thomson in collaboration with Encompass Opera Theater, a program featuring the Flux Quartet, and a 75th birthday concert devoted to the music of Francis Thorne

The programs from our very first season when we were called “Close Encounters”

Opera and music theater have always been important components of CEC. I am fortunate to be good friends with renowned director Rhoda Levine, who directed The Life and Times of Malcolm X at the New York City Opera as well as a production of Porgy and Bess in Cape Town, South Africa. Knowing that she would bring her theatrical flair to CEC, I asked her to direct two unusual works. For Derek Bermel’s witty Language Instruction, she placed the action in a classroom full of eccentrics, taught by an instructor who could not communicate. The resulting chaos was hilarious. She also directed The Four Seasons of Futurist Cuisine by Aaron Jay Kernis as a TV cooking show, complete with Dadaist recipes.

Another significant theatrical performance presented as part of the Cutting Edge Concerts was when Valeria Vasilevski directed Eric Salzman’s opera The True Last Words of Dutch Schultz in film noir style. The costumes were entirely black and white, and in one scene, the action moved in reverse, with the singers executing their original gestures backwards and in fast-motion, like a film rewinding. The eclectic vocalist Theo Bleckmann was the soloist, and his portrayal of the legendary gangster was malevolently spine-tingling, particularly with his expert use of extended technique.

From time to time, I’ve paired composers with creative artists of other disciplines, such as architects (“The Shape of Sound”) and weavers (“Woven Sound”). In 2010, I created a season with the theme “Can Music Heal? and partnered with Memorial Sloan Kettering Hospital, as well as other cancer care facilities. CEC donated half of the box office proceeds to these organizations. We invited doctors and music therapists to participate in pre-concert panel discussions. I was curious to know more about how music therapists work with patients and spent the day observing one at MSK. I asked what instruments other than the guitar, which was what she played, were favored for this therapy, and I mentioned the harp. “We had a harpist playing in the recovery room at the hospital,” she said. “However, when one of the patients woke after surgery and heard the beautiful harp music, she panicked and thought she had died!”

Karen Popkin, Pauline Oliveros, Matthew Gurewitch, Victoria Bond, Dr. Barrie Cassileth, and Neil Rolnick at an onstage panel discussion in 2010.

An onstage panel discussion with (pictured left to right) Karen Popkin (Manager, Music Therapy Program at Memorial Sloan-Kettering), Pauline Oliveros, Matthew Gurewitch, Victoria Bond, Dr. Barrie Cassileth (Chief, Integrative Medicine Service at Memorial Sloan-Kettering Cancer Center), and Neil Rolnick was one of the highlights of CEC’s 2010 season.

Over the years, we’ve presented a number of programs that incorporate visual art and artists. For example, I have long been fascinated with the way weavers’ art relates to music because it uses form, color, and texture—elements that also apply to composition. I wrote a work that I called Woven, inspired by the intricate and colorful weaving and textiles of Jack Lenor Larsen. He invited me to perform it on an outdoor concert at his magnificent sculpture garden in East Hampton. In turn, I invited Jack to speak about his work on a Cutting Edge Concert. Dressed in his signature white suit and hat, he made a stunning presence at the concert and astounded the audience with images of his incredibly detailed artwork. This year we are working with the prominent painter Eric Fischl whose watercolors will be projected during the Eroica Trio’s performance of Bruce Wolosoff’s composition The Loom. Eric will be at the concert to discuss the collaboration with Bruce and the synergy between visual and musical creativity.

In 2006 CEC featured the music of Harry Partch, a composer with whom I had a fruitful history. When I lived in Los Angeles, Partch cast me to be the soprano soloist in the premiere of his opera Delusion of the Fury, which made an indelible impression on me. After Partch’s death, Dean Drummond, a percussionist who had also participated in that premiere, carried on the Partch tradition, preserving the iconic instruments at Montclair State University and commissioning new compositions for them. CEC performed an entire concert using the Partch instruments and featuring music by Partch as well as Drummond and other composers. At that time, the series was held in a very small theater at Greenwich House, and one of the instruments, the Marimba Eroica, could barely fit on the stage. The player stood on a tall ladder in order to play and wore huge orange gloves with which he tapped the keys. At the concert, I thought the audience would be curious about the instrument and about the gloves, so I asked the player where he got those gloves, and if they were specifically made for that purpose. “I got them at Home Depot” he replied, and the audience had a good chuckle.

Victoria Bond and Joan Tower

A moment of levity between Victoria Bond and Joan Tower at a pre-concert talk during the 2016 CEC season.

Over twenty seasons of concerts, we’ve had plenty of surprises.  One quite wonderful spontaneous happening was during a concert that featured composer William Bolcom. After a very successful performance of his Trio for Clarinet, Violin and Piano, the applause went on for such a long time, that Bolcom leaped to the stage to take a bow.  But that was not the end of it.  He invited his wife, Joan Morris, who was in the audience, to join him. Bill sat at the piano and Joan sang. Together they regaled the audience with an impromptu encore featuring several of his cabaret songs which he had written for Joan and which they performed to perfection.  The audience went wild.

Other unexpected occurrences were not quite as welcome, but also memorable. I used to have a series called “Cutting Edge Kids” which presented music by living composers written for young audiences on locations outside of the city.  On one occasion we were performing my composition, The Frog Prince at the Children’s Museum of the East End in Bridgehampton. In the piece, there is a suspenseful moment just before the frog is about to get thrown across the room by the princess and all action and music stop for a pregnant pause. During this silence, from the back of the audience, a child yelled “uh-oh!” in a very loud voice. The audience burst out laughing and everyone turned to look at the very small girl perched on her father’s shoulders.  It was not the moment that had been planned, but it was priceless!

Another time, an elderly woman was sitting in the front row of the theater when a string quartet was just about to begin to play, their bows poised in midair. She spoke up loudly, addressing the first violinist. “Can you move your chair to the left? I can’t see the other players.” He was so startled that he actually DID move his chair to everyone’s amusement.

The challenges of producing, organizing, maintaining, and funding the Cutting Edge Concerts are great. However, the rewards of the series are equally great: bringing new music to new audiences; providing a platform for composers to hear their music performed by outstanding musicians, and providing musicians interested in new music the opportunity to work with composers. The concerts have given me a tangible way to express my appreciation for those who create, those who perform, and those who enjoy listening. On its 20th season, CEC is going strong, and as we did in the beginning, we continue to celebrate the music of our time.

Harold Meltzer and Victoria Bond

Harold Meltzer talks about his composition Variations on a Summer Day with Victoria Bond before its performance at a Cutting Edge Concert at Symphony Space’s Leonard Nimoy Thalia on April 28, 2014

Old First Concerts Offer Exceptional Chamber Music

Old First Concerts, a series founded in 1970 in a Presbyterian church in San Francisco, presented two exceptional young chamber ensembles performing contemporary music on consecutive Fridays in late March. Both concerts demonstrated O1C’s commitment to emerging and mid-career artists who are exploring non-standard repertoire. The City of Tomorrow, a wind quintet, offered a program comprising 20th- and 21st-century repertoire; the entire Mobius Trio performance consisted of works written specially for their acoustic guitar trio. The series itself has a small but regular and enthusiastic following—an audience willing to sit in hard wooden church pews to hear a broad range of unfamiliar music.

The City of Tomorrow

The City of Tomorrow: Laura Miller (left), Elise Blatchford, Leander Star, Camila Barrientos, Andrew Nogal
Photo by Tarina Westlund

The City of Tomorrow, gold medalists in the 2011 Fischoff Chamber Music Competition, performed on March 15 as part of their first West Coast tour. Two members of the quintet—French hornist Leander Star and flutist Elise Blatchford—are alumni of the San Francisco Conservatory of Music, and Star mentioned that, coincidentally, the two first met at Old First Church. The idea for the quintet formed later, when Star and oboist Andrew Nogal were both graduate students at Northwestern. Since then the other seats have been filled by Camila Barrientos on clarinet and by bassoonist Laura Miller, the group’s newest member, who joined in July of last year.

Despite the fact that the members are scattered across the country—Blatchford and Star are now in Portland, Oregon, while Barrientos is back East in New York; Nogal remained in Chicago, while Miller is down in Austin—this quintet plays with an extraordinary sense of ensemble, not just in terms of rhythmic precision but in tone color, balance, gesture, and sensitivity. Most astonishing in this regard was Luciano Berio’s virtuosic Ricorrenze, which The City of Tomorrow performed sitting in a straight line, facing the audience. Composed in 1987 for Pierre Boulez’s 60th birthday, this piece is filled with recurring quick chatterings and murmurings on one pitch tossed among the instruments. The notes are repeated using a variety of methods, including quick tongue articulations, flutter tonguing, and an interesting technique where single pitches are trilled using alternate fingerings, by which Berio creates the perception of rearticulation in the trembling wah-wah-wahs that result. Amid the chatter, individual soloistic voices pop into relief, and at times all musicians play elaborate grace note figures simultaneously before returning to their nattering. (A very brief excerpt of The City of Tomorrow performing this 16-minute piece is included below.) Despite minimal eye contact given the seating arrangement, these musicians brought off the playfulness of Berio’s colorful and intricately intertwined conversation.

Also programmed were Darius Milhaud’s exquisitely lyrical and restrained La cheminée du roi René (1939), the U.S. premiere of British composer Rob Keeley’s Wind Quintet (2003/2011), and Magnus Lindberg’s Arabesques (1978). The long liquid lines of “Cortège,” the first movement of the Milhaud, were an immediately charming introduction to the second half of the program, and a stark contrast to the extroverted and high-intensity Arabesques, which followed. Written 35 years ago, shortly after Lindberg became acquainted with Berio’s music, Arabesques juxtaposes periods of constant noisy activity with striking events such as abruptly highlighting the oboe alone playing multiphonics or sounding the bassoon unexpectedly in the extreme low register.

The group, which takes its name from a Billy Collins poem and describes itself as “retro-futurist,” expresses the desire to become an ensemble that is generating new music for wind quintet. Though they have presented the North American premieres of the Keeley quintet and Blow by Franco Donatoni, to date they haven’t had any works written specifically for them. However, composers interested in exploring the possibilities of this instrumentation should get to know this skilled ensemble; The City of Tomorrow performs the same program with the addition of Jennifer Higdon’s sextet Summer Shimmers with pianist Katya Mihailova, at the Dimmena Center in their New York debut on April 19.


Mobius Trio

Mobius Trio: Mason Fish (left), Robert Nance, Matthew Holmes-Linder

The members of the Mobius Trio, which performed on March 22, are all alumni of the San Francisco Conservatory. In contrast to the members of The City of Tomorrow, who were attired in formal concert garb, the three young men of Mobius (Mason Fish, Matthew Holmes-Linder, and Robert Nance) came out in jeans and khakis, casual sport coats, and hardy boots, which were prominently displayed on the players’ foot rests and elicited much comment at intermission. Their dress reflected the comfortable and unburdened presence that these exceptional musicians have on stage, despite performing very intricate repertoire. Also unlike City of Tomorrow, all of the group’s music has been written explicitly for them; the group started in 2010 with five commissions from colleagues and friends, and works have been accruing since then, with a world premiere by Kevin Villalta at this performance. (An additional premiere by Samuel Carl Adams was initially scheduled but postponed.)

Mobius Trio at Old First Church

Mobius Trio at Old First Church

Four of the seven works on this program—pieces by Sahba Aminikia, Danny Clay, Dan Becker, and Brendon Randall-Myers—were included on the trio’s recent debut CD, which was covered on NewMusicBox last year. Of the three new works, More Gargoyles by guitarist and composer Frank Wallace was the least concerned with the exploration of extended techniques and relied instead on Mobius’s superb group sensitivity both in the tender waltz in the first section of the work and a final, intimate duet between Holmes-Linder and Nance. Likewise Adrian Knight’s Bon Voyage showcased the group’s gentle playing by focusing a microscope on the instruments: the three acoustic guitarists, playing entirely on harmonics, were amplified. The steady eighth-note arpeggiations that underlie nearly the entire piece create the sense of a delicate miniature music box, with the soft hazy decay of the vibrating strings quietly hypnotizing the room.

Villalta’s Witch Wagon was inspired by a Salvadoran folk tale about a wagon eternally rattling through the streets as a warning against immorality. The composer searched out sonic possibilities, from strumming all the way up by the pegs to tapping all around the body, transforming the three guitars into a single unrecognizable folk instrument. Strings were detuned and clamped, sometimes yielding a bracing and unsettling moaning effect. There were times when it was really not clear to my ear or eye how certain percussive and metallic sounds were achieved, and by the time the first chord with a recognizable guitar resonance was strummed, it was an unexpected event. In less secure hands the piece might have sounded like a collection of arbitrary sound effects, but Villalta and Mobius created a compelling sonic portrait that was simultaneously detailed and non-narrative.

The natural ease of Mobius’s playing and their unforced integration of inventive ways of using their instruments into their solid base of traditional technique made for a consistently excellent evening. It’s clear from the unity of their playing that the members of Mobius genuinely love making music together, cuing each other with just the lift of an eyebrow or even a hint of a smile. The group next performs on the Peninsula Guitar Series in San Bruno, California, on May 4. Their CD Last Light is available here.

Seattle Symphony: Partying Like It’s 1962

Full disclosure: Seattle Symphony performed my music as part of their Sonic Evolution project on October 26th. However, since they also host a number of interesting and creative music series designed to attract new audiences, I wanted to share with NewMusicBox readers my observations of an event I had the opportunity to attend while I was in town.

After arriving in drizzly, chilly, late-October Seattle, I took a short “disco nap,” in part to battle coast-to-coast jetlag, and also to make sure my ears would be well sharpened for the Seattle Symphony’s new late night contemporary chamber music series called [untitled]. Designed to take place in the grand lobby of Benaroya Hall—a welcoming space with gigantic windows overlooking the city—this inaugural concert celebrated the 50th anniversary of the Seattle World’s Fair by presenting works composed exclusively in 1962. The festivities featured a mixed ensemble of orchestra musicians, as well as six members of the International Contemporary Ensemble (ICE) who were in town participating in the symphony’s full weekend of concerts.

When I arrived shortly before 9:00 p.m., people were milling about the lobby, and many were lining up at the several bar areas to procure beer, wine, coffee, and tea. It was over an hour before the actual event was supposed to begin, but I wanted to hear the decidedly post-1962 “pre-concert” event as well; Gabriel Prokofiev’s Concerto for Turntable and Orchestra. A work for chamber orchestra featuring select members of the symphony, it was conducted by assistant conductor Stilian Kirov, and featured DJ Madhatter on turntables. I ended up sitting at a table close to the musicians with some of the volunteer crew (who requested detailed explanation regarding what the DJ was doing and how exactly he was doing it), and although I couldn’t see all of the musicians, I had a clear view of large video displays focused on the DJ’s turntable and electronics setup. It was a satisfying way to experience the piece, as the DJ’s role was highly virtuosic; he kept busy scratching and spinning the bubbling orchestra source material contained on his vinyl records, playing snappy exchanges with the musicians as well as cadenzas of his own making. Happily, the acoustics of the grand lobby are excellent; the performance (and indeed, the entire concert) sounded crisp, clear, and well balanced in the space. The audience gathered closely around the players, and the piece was well suited to such an intimate setting.

Gabriel Prokofiev Concerto for Turntable and Orchestra

Seattle Symphony musicians with assistant conductor Stilian Kirov and DJ Madhatter performing Gabriel Prokofiev’s Concerto for Turntable and Orchestra. Photo by Ben VanHouten.

By the time the “official” event kicked off, after additional drinks and desserts and milling about, the lobby was filling up nicely with several hundred concertgoers. Some took advantage of seating arranged both on the ground floor and around the circumferences of the upper floors, while others parked on the stairs and on the floor. Music Director Ludovic Morlot served as the MC for the [untitled] program, enthusiastically giving background information on the pieces, directing the audience’s attention to each of the two performance areas in the lobby, and imploring people to wander through the space and experience the music from different vantage points.

Seattle Symphony [untitled]

Seattle Symphony [untitled] concert in the grand lobby of Benaroya Hall. Photo by Ben Vanhouten.

The first work on the program proper was John Cage’s Variations III for “any number of people performing any actions.” Morlot emphasized the whimsy of this work as he playfully tossed the transparent circle images which constitute the score under a camera that fed the numerous video screens (which, when not being employed to show scores, projected the program in progress, along with associated information and notes), and added embellishments to the blank sheet of paper with colored Sharpie pens. The musicians, scattered through the performance area, reacted to the visual stimulus, creating a pointillistic sound field that ended all too soon. Although some Cage diehards in the audience could be overheard sounding a little grumbly about the piece not being taken seriously enough (the musicians seemed perfectly serious about the whole affair to me), I imagine that Morlot’s ebullient attitude could warm up a lot of straight-laced classical concertgoers to the adventures offered by Cage’s music.

Next up was Scelsi’s Khoom, which was given a ravishing performance. The audience was transfixed by soprano Maria Mannisto, who navigated the work’s constantly transforming nonsense syllables with ease and clarity. The scene then switched to the second performance area for Earl Brown’s Novara. The score, which is constructed of musical fragments which can be played in any order and combination, was projected on to the video screens, and one could watch the music unfold (or at least try to figure out how it was unfolding) by alternating one’s view from conductor and performers to score. Following that was a taut, intense performance of Atrées by Xenakis, a work for mixed ensemble, consisting of five sections that can be played in any order.

Scelsi's Khoom

Seattle Symphony and ICE musicians with conductor Ludovic Morlot, performing Scelsi’s Khoom. Photo by Ben Vanhouten.

The exclamation, “Did you even know that Morton Feldman has a work that is only five minutes long?!” could be overheard multiple times after the next (and uncharacteristically short) work, Feldman’s For Franz Kline, featuring another beautifully wordless performance by Maria Mannisto. The final piece on the program was the ever charming Poeme symphonique for 100 metronomes by Ligeti. The metronomes were set up on one level of a staircase leading to the concert hall balcony, and Morlot invited audience members to join him and the members of ICE in starting them up. A good portion of the audience crowded onto the staircase to help get them started, or to have a good look and listen. Although the somewhat cramped location of the metronomes seemed a bit odd at first—normally the piece begs to be located out in the open in a nice large space—the clicking nevertheless resounded throughout the lobby, and could be heard quite strongly in unexpected spots. Although some of the audience started to disperse about halfway through the clacks, chatting with friends and edging toward the doors, a larger number stood transfixed by the metronomes, waiting patiently until the very last click (I did see one gentleman restart a metronome that finished earlier, so the whole process took a while), and giving the miniature tabletop orchestra a hearty round of applause after the final player ground to a halt.

Poeme symphonique

Ligeti’s Poeme Symphonique for 100 metronomes.

Although presenting music of this sort is not a new occurrence, especially in the rich musical life of Seattle, it was nevertheless heartening to see so many intent listeners of many different ages—from teenagers to senior citizens—and to overhear so much conversation about the music itself. Many audience members who didn’t immediately “get it” were eager to enter into dialogue with others for whom this music is an everyday event. (My personal favorite moment was when a man came up to me and the clarinetist I was chatting with after the event, and pointedly said, “It’s interesting that none of the composers on this program are still alive. Do you actually know any living composers?”) Even if those folks never did completely embrace the experience, that they stuck around to try until after midnight is significant. The [untitled] series is a wonderful example of creative programming that provides audiences with a close-up experience of the orchestra, and at the same time strengthens ties with the city by celebrating its history as well as its inhabitants.