VIDEO FLASHBACK: Bruce Montgomery’s Concertino for String Orchestra

In March, conductor Andrés Rivas led The Orchestra Now in a livestreamed, physically distanced performance of Bruce Montgomery‘s Concertino for String Orchestra at the Fisher Center at Bard. Former TŌN violinist Shaina Pan wrote that “[The] English composer wrote mostly choral and film music, but was also known for his classic crime novels and short stories which he wrote under the pseudonym Edmund Crispin. . . . Concertino for String Orchestra is [his] sole instrumental work. After its first performance, a review described the piece as ‘a graceful, flowing, three-movement work, well written, economical in notes and notable for a lyrical lento espressivo of imaginative warmth.’” You can read Shaina’s full notes on the piece by clicking here.

VIDEO FLASHBACK: Frank Martin’s Petite symphonie concertante

In March, conductor Zachary Schwartzman led The Orchestra Now and soloists Renée Anne Louprette on  harpsichord, Frank Corliss on piano, and Taylor Ann Fleshman TŌN ’22 on harp in a performance of the Petite symphonie concertante by composer Frank Martin, who was born 131 years ago this week. Taylor Ann Fleshman writes that “The Petite symphonie concertante was composed in 1945 from a request made by Paul Sacher. Sacher did not micromanage how the piece was to be composed, but his one specific request was that plucked basso continuo instruments were to be employed along with standard string instruments. From here, Martin decided to use instruments that are still common today, which included harp, piano, and harpsichord. These three instruments are the soloists of the work while the remaining strings are split into two equally important groups.” You can read Taylor’s full concert notes on the piece by clicking here.

VIDEO FLASHBACK: Schoenberg’s Chamber Symphony No. 1

Last November, conductor Leon Botstein led The Orchestra Now in a livestreamed, physically distanced performance of the Chamber Symphony No. 1 of composer Arnold Schoenberg, who was born 147 years ago this week. TŌN clarinetist Matthew Griffith writes that “the Chamber Symphony No. 1 is a landmark at a distinctly pivotal moment in the history of classical music. . . . There are only 15 players on the stage, but the expressive range and intensity still sounds remarkably like a full orchestra.” You can read Matthew’s full concert notes on the work by clicking here.

TŌN IN: Shostakovich & Dawson

In this September 12, 2021 performance livestreamed from the Fisher Center at Bard, Leon Botstein conducts William L. Dawson’s distinctive and emotionally charged Negro Folk Symphony and Shostakovich’s enormous and patriotic 7th Symphony, Leningrad, written largely after the composer had fled the city following the German invasion during WWII.

Read the full concert program by clicking here.

Scroll down below the video for timings and concert notes.

1:00 Introductory remarks by TŌN violist Sean Flynn
6:57 William L. Dawson: Negro Folk Symphony
Read concert notes by TŌN bassist Tristen Jarvis by clicking here.

44:19 Introductory remarks by TŌN flutist Leanna Ginsburg
50:50 Dmitri Shostakovich: Symphony No. 7, Leningrad
Read concert notes by TŌN violist Celia Daggy by clicking here.

VIDEO FLASHBACK: Bernstein’s Serenade (after Plato’s Symposium)

In April, violinist Zongheng Zhang joined TŌN and conductor Leon Botstein for a performance of Leonard Bernstein‘s Serenade (after Plato’s Symposium) in a physically distanced concert that was livestreamed from the Fisher Center at Bard. TŌN timpanist Keith Hammer III writes that the piece is “based on Plato’s dialogue The Symposium. Plato’s work is a musical reflection of the impassioned, yet rancorous, speeches on the subject of love made by philosophers such as Aristophanes, Agathon, Phaedrus, and Socrates.” You can read Keith’s full concert notes on the Serenade by clicking here.

VIDEO FLASHBACK: Vaughan Williams’ Fantasia on a Theme by Thomas Tallis

In February, conductor James Bagwell and The Orchestra Now performed Ralph Vaughan Williams‘ Fantasia on a Theme by Thomas Tallis, which premiered 111 years ago this week. TŌN violinist Xinran Li writes that the piece “is full, serene, and spiritual” and that it “builds up with its complicated, flowing layers with interesting tones.” She notes that “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.” You can read Xinran’s full concert notes on the work by clicking here.

VIDEO FLASHBACK: Jonny Greenwood’s Popcorn Superhet Receiver

In February, TŌN’s associate conductor James Bagwell led the orchestra in a performance of Popcorn Superhet Receiver by composer and Radiohead musician Jonny Greenwood. TŌN bassist Tristen Jarvis writes that the piece was “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.” You can read Tristen’s full concert notes on the work by clicking here.

VIDEO FLASHBACK: Tania León’s Ácana

Conductor Leon Botstein led The Orchestra Now in a performance of Tania León‘s 2008 work Ácana in a livestreamed, physically distanced concert from the Fisher Center at Bard this past April. TŌN bassoonist Cheryl Fries writes that “León found inspiration for her chamber orchestra piece in Cuban Laureate Poet Nicolás Guillén’s poem dedicated to the Cuban tree. Sprawling to a height of 90 feet and 3 feet wide, the ácana tree is revered for its strength and wide-spreading roots. Guillén’s poem serves as an ode to the tree that is essential to Cuban life and society. The ácana’s role is described in this poem as being the pitchfork that helps to build homes, a staff to lead people safely home, and finally the table that will hold their coffins.” You can read Cheryl’s full notes on the piece, and Guillén’s poem, by clicking here.

VIDEO FLASHBACK: Martinů’s Double Concerto for Two String Orchestras, Piano, and Timpani

Last October The Orchestra Now, conducted by Zachary Schwartzman, performed the 1938 Double Concerto of Czech composer Bohuslav Martinů, who passed away 62 years ago this week. In her notes on the concerto, TŌN violinist Esther Goldy Roestan writes that “The political climate in Europe was very hostile around this time, especially because Hitler was still in power, and this severely impacted Czechoslovakia, where Martinu had a lot of connections. This was the year of Kristallnacht, the Czech Crisis, and the Munich Agreement. In this concerto, Martinů clearly expressed how he felt during this difficult time, and we can hear anxiety, depression, and restlessness throughout the piece.” You can read Esther’s complete notes on the piece by clicking here.

VIDEO FLASHBACK: Sarah Hennies’ Falling Together

The Orchestra Now had the privilege of performing the world premiere of Sarah Hennies‘ Falling Together with conductor James Bagwell in a livestreamed, physically distanced concert from the Fisher Center at Bard in February. The composer writes: “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.”