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.

AUDIO FLASHBACK: William Grant Still’s Out of the Silence

This week’s Audio Flashback is William Grant Still‘s meditative Out of the Silence. Still, the first African-American to have a symphony performed by a major U.S. orchestra, wrote this work as part of Seven Traceries, a set of mystical piano pieces intended as musical portraits of God, which were subsequently orchestrated by the composer. The Orchestra Now performed this piece outdoors (hence the crickets you will hear in the background!) with conductor James Bagwell last September, opening the Out of the Silence festival, presented with the Bard Music Festival and the Fisher Center at Bard. 

AUDIO FLASHBACK: Jessie Montgomery’s Strum

This Tuesday’s Audio Flashback is the recent work Strum by Jessie Montgomery. Montgomery’s music has been recognized with the ASCAP Foundation’s Leonard Bernstein Award, and her current commissions include works for the New York Philharmonic and Carnegie Hall. The Washington Post has called her music “turbulent, wildly colorful and exploding with life.” The Orchestra Now performed Strum with conductor Andrés Rivas as part of last September’s 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 Christopher H. Gibbs, Artistic Codirector of the Bard Music Festival, by clicking here.

AUDIO FLASHBACK: George Walker’s Lyric for Strings

For our first Audio Flashback of 2021 we offer the elegiac Lyric for Strings by George Walker. Walker was the first African-American winner of the Pulitzer Prize for Music. Fanfare magazine called him “one of the greatest composers of our time.” The Orchestra Now performed this piece with conductor James Bagwell as part of last September’s 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 Christopher H. Gibbs, Artistic Codirector of the Bard Music Festival, by clicking here.

AUDIO FLASHBACK: Joachim Raff’s Psalm 130: De Profundis

Our second Audio Flashback this Tuesday goes back to April 2019, when we performed the U.S. premiere of Joachim Raff‘s Psalm 130: De Profundis at the Fisher Center at Bard with conductor Leon Botstein; soprano Elizabeth De Trejo; and the Bard Festival Chorale, directed by James Bagwell. You can read the concert notes, written by TŌN horn player Emily Buehler, by clicking here.

0:00 Introduction: Andante (Moderately slow)
1:59 De Profundis: Andante con moto (Moderately slow, with motion)
8:24 Si iniquitates: Andantino (Moderate)
12:59 Quia apud te: Allegretto (Moderately fast)
17:18 A custodia matutina: Andante con moto (Moderately slow, with motion)
22:40 Et ipse redimet: Allegro (Fast) 

AUDIO FLASHBACK: Jennifer Higdon’s blue cathedral

Our first Audio Flashback this Tuesday is to our 2018 performance of Jennifer Higdon‘s ethereal and emotional blue cathedral. Higdon called the piece “a place of beginnings, endings, solitude, fellowship, contemplation, knowledge, and growth.” We performed the work with conductor James Bagwell at the Fisher Center at Bard on February 3, 2018. You can read notes from the composer by clicking here.

AUDIO FLASHBACK: Beethoven’s Piano Concerto No. 4

Beethoven‘s Piano Concerto No. 4 premiered on this day in 1808 in Vienna. Beethoven wrote the piece for himself, and its premiere was the last time he ever performed as a soloist with an orchestra. Pianist Anna Polonsky played the concerto with The Orchestra Now and conductor Leon Botstein at the Fisher Center at Bard this past February. You can read the concert notes, written by TŌN horn player Steven Harmon, by clicking here.

AUDIO FLASHBACK: Beethoven’s Symphony No. 3, Eroica

Ludwig van Beethoven, one of the greatest classical composers of all time, was born 250 years ago this week. We honor him by sharing our February performance of his Symphony No. 3, Eroica. This innovative work marked a turning point not only in Beethoven’s career, but in music history altogether. We performed it with conductor Leon Botstein at the Fisher Center at Bard in a concert celebrating Beethoven. You can read the concert notes, written by TŌN flutist Leanna Ginsburg, by clicking here.

AUDIO FLASHBACK: Stravinsky’s Symphony of Psalms

This Tuesday’s Audio Flashback is Igor Stravinsky’s Symphony of Psalms, which premiered 90 years ago this week. Stravinsky uses unusual instrumentation in this piece to create dark resonance and complexity. It all leads to an incredibly thought-provoking musical experience. Our 2018 performance at the Fisher Center at Bard, with the Bard College Chamber Singers and Bard Festival Chorale under the direction of James Bagwell, was led by conductor Leon Botstein. You can read the concert notes by clicking here.