AUDIO FLASHBACK: Hindemith’s Concert Music for Piano, Brass, and Harps

This week’s Audio Flashback is Paul Hindemith‘s Concert Music for Piano, Brass, and Harps. TŌN tuba player Jarrod Briley calls this piece “one of the hidden gems of Hindemith’s repertoire” and says, “of the many fantastic composers throughout classical music history, I can think of few who wrote as expressively and effectively for brass instruments as Paul Hindemith.” We performed this work with pianist Blair McMillen and conductor Leon Botstein in a physically distanced concert that was livestreamed from the Fisher Center at Bard in November 2020. You can read Jarrod Briley’s full concert notes on the music by clicking here.

AUDIO FLASHBACK: Alvin Singleton’s After Choice

This week’s Audio Flashback is After Choice by Brooklyn-born composer Alvin Singleton. In his concert notes, Bard music professor Kyle Gann says, “After Choice is Singleton’s tribute to a fellow important African American composer, Leroy Jenkins. Jenkins was a consummate improvising violinist in the free jazz world. Singleton has appropriated “licks” from Jenkins’ nimble playing style and juxtaposed them among the strings with pizzicato against bowed lines, in quite tricky rhythmic assemblages of unison septuplets and quintuplets. No more than two lines are heard at once, often doubled in octaves, and the recurring pitch sets aptly convey the contours of Jenkins’ frenetic fiddling. When a second violin solo cadenza appears just before the end (against the first violins), it’s as though Jenkins’s spirit makes a momentary appearance.”

TŌN performed this work with conductor James Bagwell on September 12, 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 Kyle Gann’s full concert notes by clicking here.

AUDIO FLASHBACK: Bartók’s Music for Strings, Percussion, and Celesta

This week’s Audio Flashback is Béla Bartók‘s Music for Strings, Percussion, and Celesta, which we performed on September 26, 2020 with conductor Leon Botstein as part of the “Out of the Silence” festival, presented with the Bard Music Festival (BMF) and the Fisher Center at Bard. In his concert notes, BMF Artistic Codirector Christopher H. Gibbs says the work “integrates Bartók’s profound knowledge of Western musical tradition, immediately evident in the fugue that opens the piece, with his pathbreaking research of folk music, not limited to the region of his native Hungary but extending farther afield to North Africa.” You can read the full concert notes by clicking here.

AUDIO FLASHBACK: William Grant Still’s Serenade

This week’s Audio Flashback is William Grant Still‘s Serenade. Still, often called the “Dean of African-American composers,” wrote this piece in 1957 on a commission by the Great Falls High School in Great Falls, Montana. The piece reflects his interest in American folk idioms, with conventional melodies and harmonies that nonetheless express a fresh and individual compositional voice. The Orchestra Now performed the work outdoors (hence the crickets you will hear in the background!) with conductor James Bagwell last September as part of the Out of the Silence festival, presented with the Bard Music Festival and the Fisher Center at Bard. 

AUDIO FLASHBACK: Joseph Bologne, Chevalier de Saint-Georges’ Symphonie concertante in G Major, Op. 13

This week’s Audio Flashback is the Symphonie concertante in G Major, Op. 13 of 18th-Century composer Joseph Bologne, Chevalier de Saint-Georges. TŌN performed the piece with violinists Cyrus Beroukhim and Philip Payton and conductor Leon Botstein on September 26, 2020 as part of the “Out of the Silence” festival, presented with the Bard Music Festival and the Fisher Center at Bard. The son of an enslaved woman and a plantation owner in the South Caribbean, Bologne led a fascinating life, excelling in both athletics and music. He was praised by future American president John Adams, and once lived in the same house as Mozart. You can read the concert notes, written by Christopher H. Gibbs, Artistic Codirector of the Bard Music Festival, by clicking here.

AUDIO FLASHBACK: Edgard Varèse’s Hyperprism

This week’s Audio Flashback is the piece Hyperprism from French composer Edgard Varèse, which premiered in New York City 98 years ago this week, and which The Orchestra Now performed with conductor Leon Botstein in a streaming concert from the Fisher Center at Bard this past November. In his concert notes, TŌN horn player Steven Harmon says, “Hyperprism is one of a handful of Varèse’s most influential works, all written in a period between 1921 and 1925, all of which contributed to a notoriety comparable to that of Stravinsky’s The Rite of Spring. In just a handful of scores, most of them lasting only a few minutes, Varèse elevated rhythm to a new prominence, granted percussion instruments a role of unforeseen importance (and complexity), and developed a new sound world, dependent not on melody and harmony, but on timbre, texture, and dynamics.” You can read his full notes on the piece 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.

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.

AUDIO FLASHBACK: Duke Ellington’s Sophisticated Lady

This Tuesday’s Audio Flashback is Sophisticated Lady by the brilliant Duke Ellington. Ellington was recognized as the greatest jazz musician in America, giving voice to the Black experience in his works. He was an indefatigable innovator who was always open to new forms of expression, eventually crossing boundaries of genre and writing longer compositions for symphony orchestra. We performed Morton Gould’s arrangement of this piece with conductor Leon Botstein on September 26, 2020 as part of the “Out of the Silence” festival, presented with the Bard Music Festival and the Fisher Center at Bard.

AUDIO FLASHBACK: Mendelssohn’s String Symphony No. 8

This week’s audio flashback is our performance of the 8th String Symphony of composer Felix Mendelssohn, who was born 212 years ago this week. Believe it or not, Mendelssohn wrote this string symphony when he was just 13 years old! He seems to have particularly valued this symphony because he immediately made a slightly different version for full orchestra. We performed the piece with conductor Leon Botstein this past September in an outdoor tent (hence the background sounds!) 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 by clicking here.