Today we’re sharing our performance of the Brandenburg Concerto No. 3 by Johann Sebastian Bach, who passed away 271 years ago this week. We played this piece with conductor Leon Botstein in a livestreamed, physically distanced concert from the Fisher Center at Bard on February 7, 2021. In her notes on the concerto, TŌN violist Celia Daggy says that she enjoys “the blending of tradition with innovation” in classical music, and that Bach “is indeed a master at combining the two,” especially in this piece. “A concerto is typically a soloist ‘versus’ orchestra, but in Brandenburg 3 there is no individual soloist. Instead, each instrument is a soloist AND part of the orchestra. Brandenburg 3 features a first, second, and third part each of violins, violas, and cellos, accompanied by bass and harpsichord for a total of 11 unique parts.” You can read Celia’s full concert notes by clicking here.
Revisit our performance of the Concerto for String Orchestra and Percussion by composer M. Camargo Guarnieri, who is sometimes known as “the Brazilian Mozart.” We performed the piece in October of 2020 with conductor Zachary Schwartzman in a physically distanced, livestreamed concert from the Fisher Center at Bard. In his notes on the concerto, former TŌN percussionist Charles Gillette observes that the work is “scored for strings, timpani, and two snare drums, . . . an unusual pairing of two sections in the orchestra that rarely play together.” He said that he was “struck by the way Guarnieri pairs rhythm with lyricism in this piece. He dedicated his 1942 piece Abertura Concertante to Aaron Copland, and I can definitely hear Copland’s influence in Concerto for Strings and Percussion.” You can read Charley’s full concert notes by clicking here.
Composer Igor Stravinsky was born 139 years ago this month in Oranienbaum, Russia. Today we share our April performance of his Concerto for Piano and Wind Instruments, with conductor Leon Botstein and pianist Blair McMillen, which Stravinsky wrote in the early 1920s while living in France. In his notes on the piece, TŌN bass trombonist Jack E. Noble looks at why the composer chose the combination of piano and wind instruments for this concerto. “In an interview following the opening concerts Stravinsky expressed that ‘Strings and piano, a sound scraped and a sound struck, do not sound well together; piano and wind, sounds struck and blown, do.’ This is a noteworthy deviation from the norm which Stravinsky uses to highlight certain characteristics of sound. In particular, the percussive articulation of the piano stands out against the sustain of the winds.” You can read Jack’s full concert notes on the concerto by clicking here.
Grażyna Bacewicz‘s Concerto for String Orchestra premiered in Warsaw 71 years ago this week. We performed the piece with conductor Zachary Schwartzman in a physically-distanced, livestreamed concert from the Fisher Center at Bard on October 17, 2020. In his notes on the piece, TŌN violist Sean Flynn says the Concerto “is considered to be the composer’s finest work” and that it is “accessible to even a first-time listener while still holding many surprises and ear-catching moments.” Noting that the composer’s background as an accomplished violinist allowed her to write very technical string parts, he says “Bacewicz asks a lot of the players of this piece . . . mak[ing] for an intense but endlessly exciting playing experience, but I am sure that this intensity and excitement will be felt by listeners as well.” You can read his full concert notes on the work by clicking here.
In honor of her recent Pulitzer Prize win for the piece “Stride,” we are pleased to present this encore presentation of our April 8, 2021 Zoom discussion with composer, conductor, and educator Tania León. She chatted with composer and musicologist Sebastian Danila and musicians from The Orchestra Now (TŌN) about her career and her Pulitzer Prize-nominated work “Ácana,” which TŌN performed on April 10, 2021.
Watch our February performance of the Holberg Suite (From Holberg’s Time) by Norwegian composer Edvard Grieg, who was born 178 years ago today. We performed the work with conductor James Bagwell in a physically-distanced livestreamed concert from the Fisher Center at Bard. In her notes on the piece, TŌN violinist Misty Drake says that the genesis of this work came when “Grieg was asked to compose festival music for the 200th anniversary of prominent Norwegian-Danish playwright Ludvig Holberg.” The music “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 after the premiere, the Holberg Suite was rewritten for a string orchestra.” You can read Misty’s full concert notes on the work by clicking here.
We’re pleased to share our performance of Metamorphosen by Richard Strauss, who was born 157 years ago this week. Strauss wrote the piece in the final days of Nazi rule and sought to convey the meaning of how World War II had dramatically transformed humanity. It is constructed in a unique format for 23 solo strings—each of which has a part that is unique from all the others—that blend together to form an overwhelmingly rich texture. We performed the piece with conductor Leon Botstein for a livestream from the Fisher Center at Bard on November 1, 2020. You can read the concert notes, written by TŌN violinist Bram Margoles, by clicking here.
Watch our October 2020 performance of Witold Lutosławski‘s Overture for Strings, conducted by Zachary Schwartzman. In his concert notes on the work, TŌN cellist Cameron Collins calls the overture “quite an interesting piece. After his first symphony, Lutosławski was reportedly unhappy with his own approach to the way he used pitches to create his melodies and harmonies. This forced him to start searching for a new ‘sound language,’ and the Overture for Strings was his first symphonic work in this process.” You can read his complete notes by clicking here.
Enjoy TŌN’s performance of Haydn‘s Symphony No. 48, Maria Theresa, with conductor Leon Botstein, presented in a livestreamed, physically distanced concert from the Fisher Center at Bard on November 14, 2020. In his concert notes on the piece, TŌN cellist Pecos Singer says this symphony “hails from Haydn’s so-called Sturm und Drang (‘storm and stress’) period. The term appropriately describes the stormy quality just beneath the surface of the music. This can be heard best in the development of the first movement, certain episodes in the fourth movement, and the Trio section of the Minuet.” You can read his full notes on the piece by clicking here.
This summer, The Orchestra Now is pleased to release videos from our livestreamed, physically distanced concerts this past season. First up is Cuauhnáhuac by Mexican composer Silvestre Revueltas, which premiered 88 years ago this week. We performed the work on November 1, 2020 with conductor Leon Botstein. In her concert notes on the piece, TŌN violist Katelyn Hoag says “Cuauhnáhuac is a fascinating fusion that uniquely blends pre-Colombian musical techniques with those of European modernists Claude Debussy and Igor Stravinsky to create a distinctly modern Mexican sound.” You can read her complete notes by clicking here.