THE ORCHESTRA NOW LIVESTREAMS TWO FREE CONCERTS FROM THE FISHER CENTER AT BARD WITH CONDUCTORS ANDRÉS RIVAS AND ZACHARY SCHWARTZMAN MARCH 7 AND 20, 2021

Annandale-on-Hudson, NY, February 26, 2021The Orchestra Now (TŌN) continues its spring 2021 season with two free concerts livestreamed from the Fisher Center at Bard, featuring assistant conductor Andrés Rivas on March 7, and resident conductor Zachary Schwartzman on March 20. Works on both concerts, ranging from rarely performed music for string orchestra to Vivaldi’s Concerto in G minor, Arvo Pärt’s memorial for composer Benjamin Britten and Shchedrin’s Carmen Suite after Bizet’s beloved opera, will be prefaced with brief remarks by TŌN musicians.

On March 7, TŌN assistant conductor Andrés Rivas will lead the Orchestra in four works for string orchestra. English composer Bruce Montgomery used his talents in several genres. After starting out as a composer of choral and vocal music, he wrote a number of TV and film scores for the infamous British comedy series Carry On and authored a series of mystery novels under the pseudonym Edmund Crispin. His Concertino for String Orchestra will be performed as part of the program. American composer and cellist Victor Herbert, a founder of ASCAP, was primarily known for his many successful Broadway operettas, but also wrote a collection of seldom-heard orchestral works, including his Romantic five-movement Serenade for String Orchestra. In addition, the concert will offer Music for Strings by Swedish composer Ingvar Lidholm, who won the 1968 Salzburg Opera Prize for his TV opera Holländarn (“The Dutchman”); and the 1934 piece Impresión nocturna from award-winning Spanish composer and violinist Andrés Gaos, whose rarely heard works often have elements of popular music. Venezuelan conductor and violinist Andrés Rivas, given the baton by Gustavo Dudamel for a concert celebrating the 36th anniversary of El Sistema in Venezuela, will explore the program in a special Zoom seminar on Monday, March 1 at 7 PM.

On March 20, TŌN resident conductor Zachary Schwartzman will lead an arrangement of orchestral music from Bizet‘s classic opera Carmen by Russian composer Rodion Shchedrin in advance of his 90th birthday in December 2022. Noted for his wide-ranging compositional style, Shchedrin’s works display components spanning the avant-garde and neo-Classicism as well as folk and jazz. His music for the Carmen Suite is a one-act ballet composed for his wife, a prima ballerina. The program will also feature Swiss composer Frank Martin’s most recognized work, Petite symphonie concertante; Arvo Pärt’s Cantus for string orchestra and bell, written in memory of composer Benjamin Britten, whom Pärt very much admired; and Vivaldi’s Concerto for Strings in G minor. Conductor and Grammy-nominated recording artist Zachary Schwartzman will offer musical insights on the concert in a Zoom seminar on Thursday, March 11 at 7 PM.

The next two concerts will take place on April 10 and May 1 and will be led by music director Leon Botstein.

Music for String Orchestra
Sunday, March 7 at 2 PM
Andrés Rivas, conductor
Bruce Montgomery: Concertino for String Orchestra
Andrés Gaos: Impresión nocturna
Victor Herbert: Serenade for String Orchestra
Ingvar Lidholm: Music for Strings

Access: Free concert, with a suggested donation of $15-35. RSVP here to receive a direct link to the livestream on the day of the concert. This concert will be available for delayed streaming on TŌN’s digital portal STAY TŌNED, starting on March 11. RSVP at this link to join the Zoom seminar on Monday, March 1 at 7 PM.

Carmen & Vivaldi
Saturday, March 20 at 8 PM
Zachary Schwartzman, conductor
Antonio Vivaldi: Concerto for Strings in G minor, RV 156
Frank Martin: Petite symphonie concertante
Renée Anne Louprette, harpsichord
Frank Corliss, piano
Taylor Ann Fleshman TŌN ’22, harp
Arvo Pärt: Cantus in Memory of Benjamin Britten
Rodion Shchedrin: Carmen Suite (after Bizet’s opera)

Access: Free concert, with a suggested donation of $15-35. RSVP here to receive a direct link to the livestream on the day of the concert. This concert will be available for delayed streaming on TŌN’s digital portal STAY TŌNED, starting on March 25. RSVP at this link to join the Zoom seminar on Thursday, March 11 at 7 PM.

STAY TŌNED
Since March 2020, TŌN has presented more than 100 audio and video streams on STAY TŌNED, its new portal regrouping of all digital initiatives. Audio content is offered every Tuesday and videos every Thursday. The events feature weekly new and archived audio and video recordings that comprise recitals, chamber music, and symphonic programs, including collaborations with the Bard Music Festival that are also available on the Fisher Center at Bard’s virtual stage, UPSTREAMING. Much of the content is also available on YouTube, Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram.

Bard College Covid-19 Measures and Safety
To adapt to current circumstances, Bard College created detailed protocols for testing and screening, daily monitoring of symptoms, contact tracing, quarantine practices, and physical distancing in the classroom and across the Bard campus. This includes specific protocols for musicians campus-wide in both its undergraduate and graduate programs.

The Orchestra Now
The Orchestra Now (TŌN) is a group of 72 vibrant young musicians from 14 different countries across the globe: Bulgaria, China, Costa Rica, Hungary, Indonesia, Japan, Korea, Mongolia, Peru, Spain, Taiwan, Thailand, the U.K., and the U.S. All share a mission to make orchestral music relevant to 21st-century audiences by sharing their unique personal insights in a welcoming environment. Hand-picked from the world’s leading conservatories—including the Yale School of Music, Shanghai Conservatory of Music, Royal Academy of Music, and the Eastman School of Music—the members of TŌN are enlightening curious minds by giving on-stage introductions and demonstrations, writing concert notes from the musicians’ perspective, and having one-on-one discussions with patrons during intermissions.

Conductor, educator, and music historian Leon Botstein, whom The New York Times said “draws rich, expressive playing from the orchestra,” founded TŌN in 2015 as a graduate program at Bard College, where he is also president. TŌN offers both a three-year master’s degree in Curatorial, Critical, and Performance Studies and a two-year advanced certificate in Orchestra Studies. The Orchestra’s home base is the Frank Gehry-designed Fisher Center at Bard, where it performs multiple concerts each season and takes part in the annual Bard Music Festival. It also performs regularly at the finest venues in New York, including Carnegie Hall, Lincoln Center, The Metropolitan Museum of Art, and others across NYC and beyond. HuffPost, who has called TŌN’s performances “dramatic and intense,” praises these concerts as “an opportunity to see talented musicians early in their careers.”

The Orchestra has performed with many distinguished guest conductors and soloists, including Hans Graf, Neeme Järvi, Vadim Repin, Fabio Luisi, Peter Serkin, Gerard Schwarz, Tan Dun, Zuill Bailey, and JoAnn Falletta. Recordings featuring The Orchestra Now include two albums of piano concertos with Piers Lane on Hyperion Records, and a Sorel Classics concert recording of pianist Anna Shelest performing works by Anton Rubinstein with TŌN and conductor Neeme Järvi. Buried Alive with baritone Michael Nagy, released on Bridge Records in August 2020, includes the first recording in almost 60 years—and only the second recording ever—of Othmar Schoeck’s song-cycle Lebendig begraben. Upcoming releases include an album of piano concertos with Orion Weiss on Bridge Records. Recordings of TŌN’s live concerts from the Fisher Center can be heard on Classical WMHT-FM and WWFM The Classical Network, and are featured regularly on Performance Today, broadcast nationwide.

For upcoming activities and more detailed information about the musicians, visit theorchestranow.org.

Press Contacts
Pascal Nadon
Pascal Nadon Communications
Phone: 646.234.7088
Email: pascal@pascalnadon.com

Mark Primoff
Associate Vice President of Communications
Bard College
Phone: 845.758.7412
Email: primoff@bard.edu

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TŌN IN: New & Classic Works for Strings

On February 21, TŌN’s associate conductor, James Bagwell, led the orchestra in a streaming concert from the Fisher Center at Bard that featured the world premiere of Falling Together by composer Sarah Hennies, and the 2005 piece Popcorn Superhet Receiver by Radiohead guitarist Jonny Greenwood, which was used in the film There Will Be Blood. The program also includes Grieg’s classic Holberg Suite and a popular work by Vaughan Williams. Scroll down below the video for basic program info and timings, or click here to read the full concert program.

0:56 Introductory remarks by TŌN cellist Eva Roebuck
4:46 Sarah Hennies Falling Together (World Premiere)
Read concert notes, written by the composer, by clicking here.

30:17 Introductory remarks by TŌN violist Katelyn Hoag
32:37 Ralph Vaughan Williams Fantasia on a Theme by Thomas Tallis
Read concert notes by TŌN violinist Xinran Li by clicking here.

47:33 Introductory remarks by TŌN cellist Pecos Singer
49:28 Jonny Greenwood Popcorn Superhet Receiver
Read concert notes by TŌN bassist Tristen Jarvis by clicking here.

1:08:08 Introductory remarks by TŌN violinist Zhen Liu
1:09:21 Edvard Grieg Holberg Suite
Read concert notes by TŌN violinist Misty Drake by clicking here.

AUDIO FLASHBACK: Samuel Coleridge-Taylor’s Four Novelettes

This week’s Audio Flashback is Samuel Coleridge-Taylor‘s Four Novelettes. Coleridge-Taylor honored his pan-African heritage with ever-mellifluous compositions that increasingly embraced syncopation. African American elites of the Gilded Age cherished him. Whitney Slaten, Assistant Professor of Music at Bard College, writes in the concert notes: “Though Coleridge-Taylor has been called the “Black Mahler,” there are more apt musical analogies. One writer … hears “touches of Brahms and the blues.” Similarly, one could listen to the dotted rhythms that introduce the first movement and find echoes of Handel, who used them to pronounce the regality in his oratorio Messiah.” TŌN performed the piece with conductor Zachary Schwartzman on September 19, 2020 as part of the “Out of the Silence” festival, presented with the Bard Music Festival and the Fisher Center at Bard. You can read Whitney Slaten’s full concert notes on the work by clicking here.

Grieg’s Holberg Suite

Notes by TŌN violinist Misty Drake

The Backstory
While classical music’s top composers dished out symphonies and concertos to gain recognition, Edvard Grieg forged a slightly different compositional path to popularity. How did a Norwegian composer with a large compositional output of choral pieces and short lyric suites join the classical music cannon? Simple: Grieg drew inspiration from the traditional Norwegian folk songs of his homeland. Before long, his writings became adopted as the nationalistic style of Norway. That being said, it is no surprise that Grieg was asked to compose festival music for the 200th anniversary of prominent Norwegian-Danish playwright Ludvig Holberg. On Dec 3, 1884, From Holberg’s Time: Suite in the olden style was premiered, along with an assortment of pieces that were inspired by the popular music during Holberg’s lifetime. Grieg engages in various meters and rhythms to blend Norwegian folksongs with classic Baroque dances. Definitely written with twirling and toe-tapping in mind! A year later, the Holberg Suite was rewritten for a string orchestra. This was a clever move, in my opinion, because it showcases the wide range of color, techniques, and versatility of this lesser-known ensemble.

The Music
This five-movement suite begins with a Praelude, imitating the broken chord progressions found in 18th-century harpsichord preludes. The Sarabande spotlights a solo cello-turned-trio, while mordant trills add the flavor of folk ornamentation over bass pizzicatti. A cheerful lilt in the bow adds a buoyant spring to the Gavotte, accompanied by a leisure drone played by the first violins. After taking an unexpected detour in the form of a Musette, this drone inherits a bagpipe-like quality before returning back as an accompanimental role. The fourth movement, Air, showcases the rich sound of a large string orchestra, and 18th-century ornamentals add intensity by prolonging harmonic climaxes. The final movement is a lively Rigaudon. Solo violin and solo viola create an energetic momentum with rapid folk passages, while the Poco meno mosso recalls the lilting folk-like qualities of previous movements.

Jonny Greenwood’s Popcorn Superhet Receiver

Notes by TŌN bassist Tristen Jarvis

The Composer and The Music
From recorder enthusiast-turned-violist to internationally renowned rockstar, guitarist/composer Jonny Greenwood, of the multi-platinum-selling rock outfit Radiohead, brings us his award-winning Popcorn Superhet Receiver for string orchestra, notably featured in the 2007 Oscar-nominated film There Will Be Blood. Deeply influenced by experimental 20th-century composers Olivier Messiaen, György Ligeti, Krzysztof Penderecki, and Arvo Pärt, Popcorn is dominated by dissonant, anxiety-provoking, microtonal clusters (evoking static from the shortwave radio catalog of an actual superheterodyne receiver), an infectious groove-based middle section, and familiar contemporary art-music atonality with occasional bursts of consonance for stability.

Creating Popcorn
Greenwood wrote the piece by playing many of its expansive tone clusters on the viola, then manipulating those notes using the industry standard audio-editing software Pro Tools, creating an orchestra of Jonny Greenwoods. Through the same process, he also multi-tracked an ondes Martenot (an early electronic keyboard from 1929 that sounds like a theremin) and transcribed his creation for string orchestra all by hand. “There’s nothing like sitting in a completely quiet room, and then the strings start up,” Greenwood comments. “It’s like when you go to the cinema— the first two or three minutes of any film are amazing because the scale of the screen is so big. Directors can pretty much do anything for those first few minutes. It doesn’t matter how many films you see, it’s still a big moment.”

A BBC Commission
Independently of his acclaimed work for Radiohead, Greenwood has established a growing reputation for himself as a composer of “classical” works, and as one of the most sought-after film composers working in Britain. In 2004, Greenwood was made composer-in-residence with the BBC Concert Orchestra. Popcorn Superhet Receiver was the first fruit of this association, premiered by the BBC Concert Orchestra and Robert Ziegler in April 2005. Greenwood’s own comments on the piece are as follows: “This was my first commission for the BBC Concert Orchestra—and a chance to try out a long-held ambition to write something using large, Penderecki-style microtonal clusters. I wanted to start from white noise, treating it like a big block to carve up and distort . . . You can just do things with the classical orchestra that unsettle you, that are sort of slightly wrong, that have some kind of undercurrent that’s slightly sinister.”

Vaughan Williams’ Fantasia on a Theme by Thomas Tallis

Notes by TŌN violinist Xinran Li

The Background
Fantasia on a Theme by Thomas Tallis, also known as the Tallis Fantasia, is a one-movement work for string orchestra by English composer Ralph Vaughan Williams. It was premiered by the composer and the London Symphony Orchestra in the Gloucester Cathedral in 1910. The Fantasia is constructed for double string orchestra with string quartet, and is inspired by both a theme by 16th-century English composer Thomas Tallis, and John Bunyan’s Christian allegory The Pilgrim’s Progress, with which Vaughan Williams had a lifelong obsession. He adapted the tune from a hymn by English poet Joseph Addison:

When rising from the bed of death,
O’erwhelmed with guilt and fear,
I see my Maker face to face,
O how shall I appear?

The Music
The harmonies in the piece have a continuous sweeping motion, and the work has a nonstop changing texture. With roots in improvisation by each of the solo players, the Fantasia builds up with its complicated, flowing layers with interesting tones. It is full, serene, and spiritual. It is covered by layers and layers of the string ensemble with its shimmering tones. Combining English folk and Renaissance stylings, the work blurs boundaries, switching between major and minor keys, creating an earthy, subtle chill. This piece brings me to a starry sky, and an oak forest. It sounds familiar but vague, something that is old but new, something that is so large but also so small. It is a rising swell, a wave that carries me away to a secret place of my own.

Sarah Hennies’ Falling Together

Notes by the composer

For many years I have been interested in labor as musical material. Labor is a necessity for human wellbeing—both economically and psychologically—despite being a source of weariness and stress. I often compose this “work music” using a series of unusual repeating patterns that represent the effort and repetition of labor.

Falling Together is inspired by the orchestral work of Iannis Xenakis, who composed individual parts for each member of the orchestra rather than grouping musicians by section that play in unison. The work’s utopian “society” of all members working differently but together gradually exhausts itself.

A Q&A with Radiohead’s Jonny Greenwood

Ahead of our concert this Sunday, New & Classic Works for Strings, composer and Radiohead musician Jonny Greenwood agreed to answer some questions from our musicians about his craft and his 2005 work Popcorn Superhet Receiver, which we’ll be performing on February 21. Scroll down to read the Q&A, and join us on Sunday at 2 PM Eastern for the free livestream concert!

Popcorn Superhet Receiver—What is the origin of the title?
James Bagwell, Conductor of Sunday’s concert and TŌN’s Academic Director and Associate Conductor

A Popcorn superhet receiver is a kind of radio. I remember long car journeys as a kid where, after exhausting the same 3 cassettes for hours, the music would be stopped—but I found that if I listened hard enough to the engine noise, I could still hear the songs playing. This is about that feeling of swimming through that noise until your mind makes music for you.

First, I just want to say thank you for taking the time to answer our questions and to connect with us musicians. To say it is a dream come true to play one of your works is an understatement, your music has shaped my life more profoundly than any other artist or composer and it is truly the reason I am a musician today.

My question for you is this: Since you have made a career out of blending different musical genres to create something totally new and different, how do you decide what becomes a Radiohead song and what becomes an orchestral piece? In other words, where is the musical line drawn, or is there a line at all? Do your orchestral works live in the same creative space that a Radiohead song does, or do you view them as two separate entities? 

P.S. If you need a double bass player for Radiohead LP10 or even a studio version of “The Daily Mail” I’d be honored!
Kaden Henderson, TŌN bassist

Thanks – that’s very kind of you to say! Well . . . I suppose tonal ideas are usually more suited to Radiohead. Though that’s become less and less true as we’ve progressed. I know we are increasingly bored / frustrated with the same tonalities. I would hope they’d come together somehow.

You’ve scored many films directed by Paul Thomas Anderson. Are there any other directors in particular that you would like to work with someday? I was also wondering what your favorite film scores from the past decade are.

P.S. The score to Phantom Thread is amazing and “House of Woodcock” is a really special track.
Sean Flynn, TŌN violist

I don’t imagine there are better directors to work for than PTA and Lynne Ramsay—though I’m currently in the middle of scoring films for Jane Campion and Pablo Larraín, and they’re both really open-minded and collaborative in the best way. So, I’m very lucky indeed. It’s so helpful having a solid reason to write music that involves a) someone else’s opinions, and b) a nice crunchy deadline.

Best score in the last 10 years? The score to Midsommar was very underrated. Not least because I love recorders.

Have you ever considered writing music for a solo instrument?  Perhaps a concerto or just a true solo piece for any instrument?
Tristen Jarvis, TŌN bassist

A flute player with mutual friends asked me (and lots of composers) to write her a piece that had to be played in one breath, so she got lots of tiny pieces. That was a lovely idea—shame I didn’t get round to it yet. But I must—thanks for the reminder.

I greatly admire the originality and experimental nature of your music. Do you have any advice for other musicians who are trying to experiment with new techniques and sounds? How do you personally know when you have found something that you want to use in your music?
Bram Margoles, TŌN violinist

I like complexity in sound—and find it more and more interesting when that complexity comes from human effort rather than software. Having said that, I’m sure you guys already study Max/MSP / supercollider-type software, which is great for experimenting. I also think manuscript and access to good musicians is equally inspiring—in a way, it’s all the ways of making music between those two extremes that I find uninspiring. I’m not sure how to advise you. I guess I’d say this: whatever you write, have a performance in mind, and think about those five minutes (or whatever) you’re going to occupy. And then start experimenting. An interesting sound / texture / rhythm is great, but it’s good to keep the frame of the performance around it. I get frustrated with how much great electronic music is a few minutes of fascinating rhythms ruined with a handful of cautiously sustained, very conventional chords over the top. Anyway—I’m just ranting now. And probably guilty of doing the same . . . .

TŌN IN: Augusta Read Thomas’ Silent Moon

For this Thursday’s video feature we check in with TŌN violinist Bram Margoles and violist Katelyn Hoag, who perform Augusta Read ThomasSilent Moon.

AUDIO FLASHBACK: Roque Cordero’s Adagio trágico

This week’s Audio Flashback is Adagio trágico by Panamanian-born composer Roque Cordero. Cordero first started working on the piece in 1946, after the death of his mother. He then set it aside, completing it only in 1955 after another tragic event: the assassination of Panamanian President José Antonio Remón Cantera, whose wife, Cecilia Pinel de Remón, had been a benefactor of Cordero’s. TŌN performed the work with conductor Andrés Rivas on September 19, 2020 as part of the “Out of the Silence” festival, presented with the Bard Music Festival and the Fisher Center at Bard. You can read the concert notes, written by Peter Laki, Visiting Associate Professor of Music at Bard College, by clicking here.