Happy New Year! It’s time for the start of another exciting season, one which will be filled with much great music as well as new and familiar faces to ProMusica.
Our opening concert features a pair of relatively new works by two wonderful friends of our orchestra, iconic American composers Michael Daugherty and Joan Tower. To launch the 2011-2012 season, we will offer a performance of Daugherty’s Sunset Strip, which was written in 1999 on a commissioned by P.T. and Beatrice Magee. The world premiere was given by the St. Paul Chamber Orchestra, conducted by Hugh Wolff, at the Ordway Music Theatre in St. Paul, Minnesota on January 7, 2000. Here is what the composer wrote about his work:
Beginning in downtown Los Angeles, Sunset Boulevard passes through glamorous neighborhoods, such as Beverley Hills and Bel Air, and ends at the Pacific Ocean. The mile-and-a-half stretch of Sunset Boulevard passing through West Hollywood is the legendary Sunset Strip. Beginning in the 1930s, Sunset Strip was popular with the Hollywood jet set for its glamorous restaurants and nightclubs, such as Ciro’s and the Trocadero. By the 1960s, the rock club Whisky a Go-Go became a major gathering-place for the hippie counterculture on Sunset Strip. It even inspired 77 Sunset Strip, a popular television series in the sixties about private detectives, and a significant book of photography by pop artist Edward Ruscha, entitled Every Building on the Sunset Strip (1966). In my orchestral composition, I create a musical landscape where I re-imagine the various sounds and images of Sunset Strip, past and present, from sundown through the midnight hour until sunrise. My dreamlike musical journey takes us past swank restaurants, beatnik hangouts, dazzling hotels, Rat Pack nightclubs, private eye offices, rock clubs with Go-Go dancers, Mexican Restaurants, and smoky jazz lounges. In Sunset Strip, I place the listener in the driver’s seat and create music-in-motion where anything can happen; and it usually does.
Next you will hear Tower’s Duets, which was commissioned by and is dedicated to the Los Angeles Chamber Orchestra. Of Duets, the composer has written:
In three of my concertos for flute, clarinet and violin, I explored the idea of pairing the soloist with the corresponding first chair player in featured cadenzas (an idea I got from Schuman's Cello Concerto). In Duets, I developed that idea within the orchestra, concentrating on pairs of cellos, flutes, horns, trumpets, and to a lesser degree violins, oboes, clarinets and percussion, creating an overall concerto grosso-like effect.
Duets is divided into four sections (slow-fast-slow-fast) within one continuous movement and lasts about 19 minutes.
Both of these exciting contemporary masterpieces feature members of our orchestra in very important soloistic ways. These two composers share several commonalities that I look for in programming new music: (1) they offer a “unique voice”; (2) they know how to make an orchestra sound great; (3) they write with very vivid coloristic orchestration; (4) they possess great rhythmic energy and visceral power; and, (5) they are immediately listenable and appealing on first hearing . . . and yet bring you back wanting to experience the work again!
Those characteristics certainly also apply to the music of Ludwig Van Beethoven. His Violin Concerto may be one of the greatest conceptions of the human mind, heart and spirit. For those who keep track of orchestral favorites, the Beethoven Violin Concerto is often the most performed classical composition in a given representative orchestral season.
ProMusica has performed it two other times throughout our three decades of concerts. We are thrilled to be presenting the brilliant young virtuoso Stefan Jackiw in his central Ohio debut. Please read about him by clicking here.
I am very confident that our season opener will provide an evening of very special memories. Please join us for the start of another wonderful season of music. Come listen to great works, played by great artists – the instrumentalists of ProMusica as well as our very special guest. Pass the word. Invite your friends.
Let me repeat what I have said before, that your presence at our concerts is greatly appreciated. You are why we play! Whether performing great music of the past, or new works of our time, know that my colleagues in the orchestra really love sharing their gifts with you . . . as do I. Concerts are about connections: the performers connecting with the composer; their connecting with each other; my connecting with them; all of us connecting with you; and, thus, your ultimately connecting with the composer and the sounds of great music.
Join us for another memorable musical offering. See you soon and (hopefully) often.