Tag: world premieres

New England’s Prospect: Three World Premieres in Wildly Disparate Styles

BMOP Intermission

A BMOP intermission, January 17, 2014: players get ready to work; composers work the room.

It has become commonplace to bash the symphony orchestra. All together now: it’s impractical, old-fashioned, a relic, a museum, a bastion of canonic conservatism, a hangover from long-gone eras and aesthetics. We know the drill.
We want it, though. The sonic luxury, the grandeur, the spectacle—we want it bad. I know this to be true because the Boston Modern Orchestra Project never seems to run out of juice. It fills a need. It mounts concerts that manage to be both one-stop shopping for the merely curious and essential for professionals. (As I’ve said before, BMOP intermissions feature some of the most vigorous new-music networking in town). Put enough people on stage, and any new-music concert becomes an event. BMOP and conductor Gil Rose have been leveraging that fact since 1996.

The “modern” in the name has always been as much stylistic as calendrical (BMOP’s opening concert this season, for instance, was a concert performance of Virgil Thomson’s Four Saints in Three Acts), but its concert at Jordan Hall on January 17 was aggressively new: three world premieres in wildly disparate styles. The curtain-raiser, Elena Ruehr’s Summer Days, continued a long relationship—Ruehr, based at MIT, was BMOP’s first composer-in-residence. Inspired by a Georgia O’Keefe painting (the third O’Keefe-inspired piece Ruehr has written), Summer Days was all mood and activity. The main formal signpost was a brief, brassy fanfare ritornello; the melodic ideas were mostly short and compact, circling around small groups of pitches. The fabric of the piece is repetition and sequence. (The one longer theme, a sustained excursion for the strings, was largely based on a simple rising scale.) Ruehr’s orchestration is Bruckner-like in its heavy outlines: families of instruments play together and stay together, juxtaposed more than mingled. The harmonic color might be characterized as exotically diatonic, bright but modal. But the emphasis is more on transformation and layering. Summer Days felt something like a long, excursively episodic development section, the goal subsumed into the getting there.

About the only thing Ken Ueno’s Hapax Legomenon had in common with Ruehr’s piece was a similar journey-like feel, and even that seemed to be radically altered, forward motion rejected in favor of a furiously concentrated focus on each present moment. Like a lot of Ueno’s music, the spur was a singular technique—in this case, the two-bow cello stylings of Frances-Marie Uitti, the quadruple-stop possibilities of which Ueno fashioned into ever-more dilated harmonies. (The title, the old scholarly term for any word that appears but once in the corpus, was Ueno’s own self-deprecating reference to his fondness for writing for such only-person-in-the-world-who-can-play-it performers.) One of Ueno’s talents is for taking what might seem gimmicks—not just Uitti’s unusual approach, in this case, but also a bunch of hoary extended techniques in the orchestra, key-clicks, breath sounds, having the players sing, etc.—and confidently turning them to new and convincing ends. Hapax Legomenon seemed to pass in heightened slow-motion, every note and texture a drawn-out respiration, every idea daringly situated in some musical gray area, between silence and sound, noise and tone, different temperaments and timeframes. The ending—a long cadenza which featured Uitti creeping up the fingerboard into a distant, shortwave squeal of high natural harmonics—was breathtaking.
David Rakowski’s Piano Concerto No. 2 was, on the surface, a much more conventional piece, and purposefully so—from its lushly chordal, moto perpetuo, étude-ish opening, the reference point seemed to be the highly-stylized, fashionably syncopated Jazz Age piano concerto. But that was a springboard for Rakowski’s brand of subtle mischief. That opening, for starters, ended up a lot more off-balance, the steady rhythmic stream sliced and diced into all manner of speed bumps. The second theme—the place, say, where Gershwin liked to let the piano take over in a wash of rubato—turned into an inside-the-piano exercise, plucked and strummed punctuation to a play of intervals in the orchestra, sixths and sevenths (and others) at harmonic sixes and sevens with each other. Throughout, Rakowski kept dropping in little bits of delicious orchestration. (Note to self: extended doubling of piano and motor-on vibraphone is an idea worth stealing.)

The second movement—conceived as an elegy for Milton Babbitt, one of Rakowski’s teachers—commenced with some more felicitious instrumentation: a stop-and-go duet between the vibraphone and marimba, joined by double-bass pizzicato, that turned into intermittent obstacles in a stream of English horn (then clarinet) cantilena. The echo of Ravel’s G-major concerto was strong, except that the piano filigree here roped the rest of the orchestra into an unexpected faster tempo. The finale had an expected fast and busy character, but ended up being more of a hesitation-toccata, the concerto’s traditional prizefight qualities reduced to a collection of feints and stutter-step footwork, before a cadenza—which finally tipped over into straight stride piano—and a vastly-telescoped reprise of the opening movement brought the piece to a close.
Like Ueno, Rakowski was writing for a specific performer: Amy Briggs, the profoundly adroit Chicago-based pianist who has been the primary performing means of Rakowski’s encyclopedic set of piano études, the increasingly whimsical challenges of which just seem to make Briggs more adventurously game. (Much of the flavor of the concerto—the jazz colors, the soloist’s doubling on celesta at particular formal landmarks—was, according to the program notes, at Briggs’ request.) Like the études, the concerto has more than a little of Rakowski’s trickster personality. Statements and ideas are inseparable from bluffs and subterfuge, not unlike a magic trick in which the misdirection is so skillful and impressive that you don’t notice that your chosen card is never actually revealed. But the patter and the choreography glister.

I suppose, if you take the current cultural landscape as a whole, any organization for which three orchestral premieres is just another night at the office is a little out of the ordinary. But BMOP has been doing it so well and for so long that they’ve created the luxury of expecting it. BMOP’s achievement is the possibility of taking that kind of programming, and the skill and panache with which it’s performed, almost for granted. But only almost. You’d miss it if it was gone.

Don’t Miss a Beat: Adventures with the Berkeley Symphony

The big news stepping into Berkeley Symphony’s final mainstage concert of the season on April 26 was that Joana Carneiro, the orchestra’s music director since 2009, had just seriously injured her shoulder and needed two months recuperation time. That this was one of the orchestra’s four concerts in the 2000-seat Zellerbach Hall on the UC Berkeley campus would have caused concern enough, but the centerpiece of the program was the world premiere of Holy Sisters, a Berkeley Symphony commission from Gabriela Lena Frank, for orchestra, soprano Jessica Rivera, and the San Francisco Girls Chorus. This set the scene for the last-minute arrival from Chicago of conductor Edwin Outwater, who tweeted obliquely the morning before the concert:

 

The Berkeley Symphony, which was founded in 1969, became known under three decades of Kent Nagano’s leadership for its commitment to contemporary music; in the last ten seasons they have received ASCAP Adventurous Programming Awards eight times. The orchestra has continued in this direction under Carneiro, announcing on Wednesday four commissions—by Steven Stucky, Dylan Mattingly, Andreia Pinto-Correia, and Paul Dresher—scheduled for the 2012/13 season.

There was a particularly personal connection for Carneiro, Rivera, and Frank behind the commission of Holy Sisters. One transcendently lovely section had initially been written by Frank and sung by Rivera as a secret gift at Carneiro’s wedding. Frank, who is an East Bay native and currently serves as the orchestra’s creative advisor, gave a spoken introduction to the 20-minute work with her characteristic ebullience by telling the personal stories behind the commission and the selection of texts about five Biblical women: Mary Magdalene, Rachel, Sarah, Miriam, and Hannah. (Jesse Hamlin wrote a nice preview piece featuring interviews with Carneiro, Frank, and Rivera for San Francisco Classical Voice in which the depth of their relationship comes through.) Frank also spoke about how the portion that was being premiered was the first part of what will eventually become a larger work, with the second half, Holy Daughters, scheduled to be premiered in May 2013 as part of the San Francisco Girls Chorus’ season.

 

Frank juggles limes (Warning: This video features squealing)
Given Frank’s personal introduction, the audience was made even more appreciative of Outwater’s effort, stepping into a premiere performance with two days’ notice, having studied the scores on his iPad. (Bartók’s Music for Strings, Percussion and Celesta and Kodály’s Dances of Galánta filled out the program.) To Outwater’s credit, the orchestra—a combination of professionals and clearly very skilled community musicians—played remarkably well, especially under a conductor whom they had only just met the day before the concert. The San Francisco Girls Chorus, impeccably prepared, as always, provided a backdrop and commentary to Rivera’s lyrical and committed delivery. I am looking forward to hearing what direction Frank will take the music in the work’s second half next season. (If you can’t wait all the way until then to hear what’s already been written, this concert will be broadcast on KALW on September 16, 2012.)

Carneiro’s injury also necessitated a substitution for another Berkeley Symphony concert a few days later, for their second Under Construction concert of the season. The Under Construction Composers Program, open to composers in the San Francisco Bay Area, began as a public reading series but has recently evolved into a more developed mentorship program, where selected composers work for a year with Frank on the creation of a new orchestral work. There was an initial public session in January (which I wasn’t able to attend) where sketches were presented and read; on April 29 the completed works were performed, publicly rehearsed, and performed again.

Paul Dresher introducing the Under Construction concert

Paul Dresher introducing the Under Construction concert

The three composers selected for this season were Nils Bultmann, Evelyn Ficarra and Noah Luna. Each wrote a piece of about ten minutes in length, which the full orchestra performed under the direction of Ming Luke, the orchestra’s education director and associate conductor. Paul Dresher, a fellow Bay Area composer who is being commissioned for next season, was on hand to introduce the event at St. John’s Presbyterian Church, where, he added, he had produced Lou Harrison’s 60th birthday concert in 1977. (A recording of that historic performance can be heard via the Other Minds Audio Archive.)

Noah Luna addressing the orchestra during the open rehearsal

Noah Luna addressing the orchestra during the open rehearsal

Dresher mentioned that the Under Construction program was an opportunity he wishes he had had himself, and one could immediately hear why. The orchestra gave surprisingly and commendably clean performances of these three works—again, under someone other than Carneiro’s direction and just three days after the Holy Sisters premiere. The three works were contrasting and complementary. Luna took full advantage of the large orchestra to write a lush and layered tone poem. Ficarra explored colors and textures by having, for example, the string instruments tapped with fingertips and then moving to fingernails, and having multiple wind players put air through their instruments audibly without playing notes. Bultmann chose to write a more virtuosic, tonal piece that focused on rhythmic play. The symphony is accepting applications for next season’s program; the deadline is June 1 (PDF application).

***

Amy X Neuburg at BAM/PFA

Amy X Neuburg at BAM/PFA

Speaking of Lou Harrison, I am sorely disappointed that I will be out of town for a performance of Harrison’s La Koro Sutro at the Berkeley Art Museum on Friday, May 25, as part of the [email protected]E: Friday Nights at BAM/PFA series, programmed by Sarah Cahill. The last performance on this series I went to on April 13 was Amy X Neuburg’s Spaces Out with guest Moe! Staiano and a 30-voice chorus. Both Neuburg and Staiano had written new pieces for the chorus (Inbred Kisses and Having Never Written A Vocal Piece, respectively) that made use of the unusual space and its multiple performance levels. But ultimately Neuburg’s wonderfully witty and captivating solo pieces like Every Little Stain and Finally Black (some of her “greatest hits” for those who have been following her for a while), in which she samples and loops herself live and lets loose her amazing range and tonal flexibility, were the most memorable works of the evening.

New England’s Prospect: The Haunted Mansion

Allow me to walk between the tall pillars
And find the beginning of one vine leaf there,
Though I arrive too late for the last spring

—James Wright, “Entering the Temple in Nîmes”

Symphony Hall in Boston is a temple, and proud of it, from the plaster casts of Greek and Roman statuary keeping classical watch to the cold-comfort design of the seats. But, like many temples, Symphony Hall is now part sacred space, part museum, harboring gods both potent and obsolete. At its best, John Harbison’s Symphony No. 6, the Boston Symphony Orchestra’s only world premiere this season, also captured something of that dance between the spark of immediacy and the accumulation of history.

Diana of Versailles

Diana of Versailles – Photo by Peter Vanderwarker

The performances last week (I went Saturday night, January 14) were conducted by David Zinman, one-time music director in Baltimore, now settled in Zurich, but there was another conductor palpably absent: James Levine, the symphony’s dedicatee, and, as Harbison indicated in interviews, in many ways its subject. Levine has always been one of Harbison’s champions; the symphony was commissioned on his watch (as was Harbison’s 5th) and he would have conducted it had not health problems forced him from the BSO podium last year. But apart from its portrait of Levine, Harbison’s 6th also seems to be a reflection on the symphony itself, the form, and the idea of writing one, adding to a considerable, even burdensome repertoire.

It was the culmination of a two-season survey of Harbison’s symphonies. “The hardest thing to win back for the big genres of symphony and string quartet,” Harbison wrote in the program book, “is some kind of naturalness, some escape from the self-consciousness of our artistic time.” But consciousness of time was present in this Sixth from the start. It opened with a setting of James Wright’s poem “Entering the Temple in Nîmes” for mezzo-soprano (Paula Murrihy, in rich, sharp-faceted voice). The Temple of Diana becomes the focal point for a multitude of eras and traditions, as Wright, from his modern vantage, regards the “young Romans”:

Though they learned her name from the dark rock,
Among bearded Greeks,
It was here in the South of Gaul they found her true
To her own solitude.

That’s a lot of transfers on one ticket. Harbison’s setting oriented the traffic around the voice, starting with a leaping, unaccompanied mezzo line; the leap became the seed of much of the symphony’s motivic grillwork. The voice turned more recitative-like as the orchestra moved in, the focus shifting to the architecture of the temple. The shift was punctuated by an interloper, a cimbalom, whose jangle Harbison would return to throughout the symphony, rounding off passages while, sonically, remaining outside them.

The second movement was built around a long string line. The line itself, winding, full of angular leaps and variable speeds, was almost reminiscent of Elliott Carter, but the musical habitat was more traditionally Mahlerian—where Carter might playfully interrupt and jump-cut his way along such a wire, Harbison gradually added orchestral and harmonic mass in a way that started to feel dutiful, like a debater affirming the possibility of the Great American Symphony with ever more orotund rhetoric.

The last two movements, though, struck out into intriguing backcountry. Both started off with material strongly echoing (consciously or subconsciously, I don’t know) the one inarguably Great American Symphony, Copland’s Third, but both played off standard ideas of symphonic greatness as much as they pursued them. The scherzo-like third movement began by carving a grid of triplets into all manner of off-kilter syncopation, but in the middle, things got seriously interesting, contrasting implications coexisting—straight rhythms vs. swing, busy contrapuntal chatter vs. glacial background-radiation harmonies—as Harbison divided the ensemble into ever-more-unorthodox chamber combinations. (A sudden garnish of stately harmonics from two solo violas—later reprised by two cellos—was particularly bewitching, like a shape-note echo.)

The fourth movement was more imposing, the sound in large blocks. (Much of it was in a particular vein that Harbison has mined before: imagine isolating the tallest, most dissonant harmonies from a big band chart and then quilting them together.) But here, too, the music seemed to surprise even itself. At one point, the granitic procession shuddered to a stop, suddenly seeming to backtrack, retracing its steps, looking for the path. The ending, too, was more an abreaction than a catharsis, ruminating to a halt rather than emphatically sending itself off; the cimbalom came back, but as part of a final inventory, the music taking one last look around the house before closing the door.

Harbison is, on the one hand, a composer of symphonies with a technique to match: the bend-but-don’t-break tonality, the chain-of-custody working out of ideas, the cultivation of a monumental austerity in his orchestration. But he also seemed, in this symphony, to be more comfortable weighing musical options than flat-out asserting them. Those points in the symphony that seemed to spin off into a kind of considered ambivalence were not only the most engaging, but also cast the rest of the piece in a more fertile light. Maybe it was a reflection of the overwhelming sense of unfinished business surrounding Levine’s tenure and departure, or maybe of something in the composer’s own temperament, but Harbison’s Sixth was hard to put a finger on in a most interesting way.

Zinman, throughout the concert, projected structure more than mood. Having suffered through enough concerts where that calculus was inverted, I can’t say it was a bad thing; still, there was a cut-and-dried sense to the whole evening. Carl Maria von Weber’s Euryanthe Overture was bracing and chipper. Beethoven’s Piano Concerto No. 1, with pianist Leif Ove Andsnes, was similarly clean and straightforward; Andsnes’s firm clarity of touch was commendable, and it was nice to hear a Beethoven interpretation unburdened with a need to foreshadow the entire Romantic era, but the overall temperature stayed low.

The performance of the Harbison was solid and admirable, but the ghost at the banquet loomed; Levine would probably have stretched those ambiguities out to wondrous effect. The concert closed with Richard Strauss’s Till Eulenspiegel’s Merry Pranks, where Zinman’s direct approach yielded the fewest dividends, countless delicious details of the piece subsumed. The ensemble and virtuosity were impeccable, but the pranks themselves had the slapstick energy of a news report.

***

The previous week’s BSO concerts were to have been the subscription series coming-out party for conductor Andris Nelsons, the odds-on favorite to take over Levine’s music directorship. Nelsons instead begged off to stay at home with his wife and newborn daughter, and BSO Assistant Conductor Marcelo Lehninger stepped in to lead the concerts. (I heard the January 7 performance.)

The original program largely remained, though, including the American premiere of Mark-Anthony Turnage’s From the Wreckage, a trumpet concerto written for Håkan Hardenberger, who was the soloist for these performances. (Nelsons started out as a trumpeter as well, hence the programming.) Why it took seven years for From the Wreckage to make it across the Atlantic, I’m not sure—the piece turned out to be a fine entertainment.

Turnage’s jazz influences are apparent, but it’s the space between influence and appropriation where the action really happens in his music. At its best, Turnage’s music is more like a still life of jazz, pinned and painted with full memento mori overtones, decay and spoil rendered with exuberant brushwork. From the Wreckage, jump-started by string harmonics and Hardenberger’s het-up flugelhorn, unfolded in waves of noir alternatives: sultry and suspicious, then grim, brittle, and Brechtian, then a fractious, Rite of Spring-style assault. Even the piece’s gimmicks paid off, whether it was having Hardenberger move from flugelhorn to trumpet to piccolo trumpet over the course of the concerto, or scattering four percussionists among the orchestra in order to pass around clockwork ticks, a surround-sound time bomb. From the Wreckage was rich, dark fun.

Lehninger (who stepped in at the last minute to conduct the premiere of Harrison Birtwistle’s Violin Concerto last season) was awfully impressive, though he started slow: the opener—Haydn’s Symphony No. 88, swapped in for the originally scheduled No. 90—was secure but one-dimensional, full of the sort of high-contrast subito-this-and-that engendered by Haydn’s reputation for humor, the elbows to the ribs outnumbering the actual witticisms. But the rest of the concert was superb. The Turnage was bold and lush. And the finale, a stop-pulling tour of Strauss’s Also Sprach Zarathustra, was terrific, cogently argued, sweepingly grand, big-boned and brash.

I had a great time, but, then again, I am an incurable Richard Strauss fan. But it was the sort of performance that recalled how far-out Strauss’s music really was and is, a facet dulled by his post-Schoenberg last-Romantic reputation, his political dealings, and, perhaps, his personal diffidence. Lehninger and the BSO, though, got it, how confrontational, how unapologetic, how punk the tone poems are, and how good performances of them depend on pushing those aspects to the fore, wallowing in the attitude. Put it this way: it is a credit to conductor and orchestra that those in the audience who aren’t Richard Strauss fans must have been absolutely miserable.

That might be wishful thinking, but this season at the BSO, one has had to take any such line-in-the-sand musical verve where one can get it; the spark of novelty has been in short supply. Living composers can be counted on one hand; the only piece left on the slate that Boston hasn’t already heard is Esa-Pekka Salonen’s Violin Concerto (scheduled to be conducted by him in April). It’s been a long time since the BSO was a hothouse of new music, and whatever energy James Levine was able to inject in that regard is petering out. The temple is feeling ancient.

The Big Day (The 2011-2012 Minnesota Orchestra Composer Institute Blog, Day 4)

Dress rehearsal! We go in concert order, with Michael Holloway’s lush Rhythm: Theta Beta Theta starting. Michael is, I believe, the youngest composer here this year, having just finished his undergraduate education (which he did in two years). His piece is impressively orchestrated, and does exactly what he described in his speech about it: it opens with slow and more luxuriously paced music, with faster music in the middle like the more active Beta brain-waves, and finally the Theta waves return to close the piece. His music has a breadth that seems beyond his years, and the orchestra really sounds fabulous playing it.

Michael R. Holloway Orchestral Score Excerpt

Excerpted from Michael R. Holloway’s Rhythm: Theta Beta Theta. © 2011 by Michael R. Holloway. Reproduced with the composer’s permission. International copyright secured. All rights reserved.
Andreia’s piece, like the geographical place, Xántara, that inspired her, is mysterious, elegant, magical. Her delicate textures and transparent orchestration are impressive. In her score, she uses such adjectives as “Floating” to impart the kind of playing she wants from the musicians. The ending particularly I found really breathtaking: quiet, with the kind of presence that demands a moment or two of silence from the listener before any applause would begin.

Andreia Pinto-Correia Orchestral Score Excerpt

Excerpted from Andreia Pino-Correia’s Xántara. © 2011 by Andreia Pino-Correia, Aljezur Music (ASCAP). Reproduced with the composer’s permission. International copyright secured. All rights reserved.
My piece is in two movements: the GOD MUSIC movement, and the BUG MUSIC movement. In both, I was pushing canonic writing as far as I could, creating textures that feel to me colorful and exuberant, sometimes sounding statistical, sometimes highly organized. I’m very interested in the idea that my harmonies are organized by horizontal lines; and those lines are designed very carefully so that the harmonies will work out the way I want them to. I like my architecture to be clear, but I always strive for it to arise out of the materials I use: their details and internal directionality.

Hannah Lash Orchestral Score Excerpt

Excerpted from Hannah Lash’s God Music Bug Music: Two Movements for Orchestra. © 2011 by Hannah Lash administered exclusively worldwide by Schott Helicon Corporation, New York (BMI). Reproduced with the permission of the composer and publisher. International copyright secured. All rights reserved.
Shen Yiwen’s music has a certain meticulousness and clarity that are truly admirable. His piece does have a certain “American” sound, featuring broad, open sonorities and lush orchestration. It is brief: only about seven minutes. But one thing I noticed about all the pieces from my colleagues here is that each one is the right length. That’s not always the case—we’ve all sat through pieces that seem to last hours when in fact they’re only ten minutes. Or pieces that seem awkwardly truncated, as if the composer lost patience with his/her material.

Shen Yiwen Orchestral Score Excerpt

Excerpted from Shen Yiwen’s First Orchestral Essay. © 2010 by Shen Yiwen Reproduced with the composer’s permission. International copyright secured. All rights reserved.
Adrian’s piece Manchester is very quiet the whole way through, but incredibly detailed; it is about small things that happen within a broad framework—a framework that invites deep listening, meditation. It involves electronics that blend in and out of the live sound; their presence is never intrusive but rather they serve to expand the palette of sound. Adrian’s harmonies and timbres are inextricably linked in a way that displays real musical intelligence as well as a well-developed concept of what the music is. This is a piece that, despite its low dynamic level, has an extremely well-defined character whose presence commands the listener’s attention, pulls you in with its strong delicacy. It is anything but innocuous in its near silence.

Adrian Knight Orchestral Score Excerpt

Excerpted from Adrian Knight’s Manchester for Orchestra. © 2008 by Adrian Knight, Pink Pamphlet. Reproduced with the composer’s permission. International copyright secured. All rights reserved.
Brian’s Collective Uncommon is almost outrageous in its imaginativeness, but avoids any sensationalism (despite the food instruments and the Tickle-Me-Elmo voice boxes); instead the music is really haunting and beautiful—yes, we are given aural images that are truly bizarre, but they are sensitively used and we come away feeling we’ve experienced something far more meaningful than a freak-show: something human, something beautiful and sad.

Excerpted from Brian Ciach’s Collective Uncommon for Orchestra. © 2010 by Brian Ciach. Reproduced with the composer’s permission. International copyright secured. All rights reserved.
After individual mentor meetings all afternoon with Maestro Vänskä, Aaron Jay Kernis, and Steven Stucky, we had a brief break before the concert. Then we all filed into the Green Room to meet with Fred Child from MPR, who would host the event, interviewing each of us briefly on stage before our pieces. Fred is a wonderful interviewer; he had listened to all our speeches online in this blog from the Donor Dinner, so he already had a sense of each of us.

When it came time to go into the hall, we found out that the house was really packed—both on the orchestra level, and at least the first tier. I’ve never had a piece played to such a large audience before. The energy of the crowd felt overwhelmingly positive; there were a lot of different ages of people, and you got the sense that everyone was excited to be there and anxious to hear what was going on in new music for orchestra.

I won’t go through all the pieces again since I’ve already done that from the dress rehearsal, but I will say that the orchestra sounded even better than they had earlier in the day. It really is a thrill to hear such a tremendous force onstage, no matter what the repertoire, but to have them playing your own music is really exhilarating!

There was a brief reception for us in the Green Room during intermission; and the other opportunity we had to interact with the audience directly was in a Q and A session after the concert. It was great to know from people’s questions how interested they were in new music, and how much they wanted to encourage us as relatively newer composers alive today.