VIDEO FLASHBACK: Witold Lutosławski’s Funeral Music

Witold Lutosławski honored monumental 20th-century composer Bela Bartók with his piece Funeral Music, which TŌN performed in February with conductor Leon Botstein in a physically distanced concert livestreamed from the Fisher Center at Bard. TŌN violinist Adam Jeffreys writes that the work’s “prophetic tone has sparked debates about the true meaning of what the piece mourns. While it was commissioned to commemorate the tenth anniversary of Bartók’s death, one historian, Nicholas Reyald, argued that Lutosławski intended to honor Bartók by creating a work which mourned the sorrows of the 20th-century Polish experience, and which drew from his own personal tragedies and experiences.” You can read Adam’s complete concert notes on the music by clicking here.

VIDEO FLASHBACK: Rodion Shchedrin’s Carmen Suite (After Bizet’s Opera)

When Russian composer Rodion Shchedrin was asked to write the music for a Carmen ballet, he combined musical excerpts from three of Bizet‘s works to create his Carmen Suite. Zachary Schwartzman conducted TŌN’s performance of this work in a livestreamed, physically distanced concert from the Fisher Center at Bard this past March. TŌN percussionist Luis Herrera Albertazzi writes that “Shchedrin described the work as ‘not simply a slavish obeisance to the genius of Bizet, but rather an attempt at a creative meeting of two minds.’ The ballet was banned right after its first performance and called an insult to Bizet’s masterpiece, and for the sexualization of Carmen’s character.” You can read Luis’ full concert notes on the piece by clicking here.

VIDEO FLASHBACK: Beethoven’s Symphony No. 7

Enjoy our performance of Beethoven‘s Seventh Symphony, which we performed in May with conductor Leon Botstein in a livestreamed, physically distanced concert from the Fisher Center at Bard. TŌN oboist JJ Silvey writes that “Beethoven was able to suffuse the work with a palpable sense of revolutionary zeal. As a whole, the symphony is exuberant, grand, and unbridled in its dual capacities for jubilance and sincerity.” You can read JJ’s complete concert notes on the work by clicking here.

VIDEO FLASHBACK: Ulysses Kay’s Scherzi Musicali

In November 2020, conductor Andrés Rivas led TŌN in a performance of Scherzi Musicali by Ulysses Simpson Kay Jr., an African-American composer born in 1917 in Tucson, Arizona. TŌN horn player Ser Konvalin writes that “Scherzi musicali was written in 1968 to celebrate the 25th anniversary of The Chamber Music Society of Detroit. Kay’s compositional style is sometimes labeled as neoclassical, and his later works are sometimes labeled as atonal, crisp, and dissonant. The beauty of the chamber orchestra setting allows for each instrument to be heard clearly even while layering on top of one another.” You can read Ser’s full concert notes on the piece by clicking here.

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

Today we’re sharing our performance of 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’s full concert notes on the music by clicking here.

VIDEO FLASHBACK: Beethoven’s Triple Concerto

Violinist Adele Anthony, cellist Peter Wiley, and pianist Shai Wosner joined TŌN and conductor Leon Botstein for a performance of Beethoven‘s Triple Concerto in a livestreamed, physically distanced concert from the Fisher Center at Bard this past May. TŌN trumpet player Maggie Tsan-Jung Wei writes that the piece “is a competition or cooperation among three soloists. The three of them may play against each other, or support each other in different phrases. Beethoven was successful not only at putting these three solo instruments together in front of a whole orchestra, but also at keeping them balanced.” You can read Maggie’s entire concert notes on the concerto by clicking here.

VIDEO FLASHBACK: Edgard Varèse’s Hyperprism

Music Director Leon Botstein led the orchestra in a performance of Edgard Varèse‘s influential piece Hyperprism in a livestreamed, physically distanced concert from the Fisher Center at Bard in November 2020. In his notes on the work, TŌN horn player Steven Harmon says that “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 concert notes on the piece by clicking here.

VIDEO FLASHBACK: Vivaldi’s Concerto for Strings in G Minor, RV 156

This past March, conductor Zachary Schwartzman led the orchestra in the Concerto for Strings in G Minor, RV 156, composed by Antonio Vivaldi, who passed away 280 years ago this week. This piece is a full concerto with no featured soloists. The outer Allegro movements are tumultuous and fiery, with a strutting syncopation and rushing melodies. The double bass plays a walking line in the central Adagio movement, with the upper strings sustaining tones.

VIDEO FLASHBACK: Beethoven’s Symphony No. 5

TŌN Music Director Leon Botstein led the orchestra in a performance of Beethoven‘s iconic Fifth Symphony this past May in a livestreamed, physically distanced concert from the Fisher Center at Bard. TŌN bassoonist Philip McNaughton notes that the symphony’s “four-note opening motif evokes an immediate reaction from not only the most avid classical music appreciator, but also from someone who has never stepped foot into a concert hall before. It has been played by world-class orchestras in almost every city around the world, and has even been heard in McDonald’s commercials. The piece premiered in Vienna in 1808 at a momentous all-Beethoven program that is said to have lasted four hours, at which the composer himself conducted and performed on the piano.” You can read Philip’s full concert notes on the symphony by clicking here.

VIDEO FLASHBACK: Victor Herbert’s Serenade for String Orchestra

This past March, we performed Victor Herbert‘s Serenade for String Orchestra with conductor Andrés Rivas in a livestreamed, physically distanced concert from the Fisher Center at Bard. The Romantic five-movement Serenade was well received at its debut at Steinway Hall in New York City in December of 1888, and was performed to great acclaim in concerts throughout the U.S. Of particular note is the passionate “Love Scene” movement, which was praised by The New York Times as “a particularly good piece of writing, being warm in theme and forceful in expression, and showing the results of careful study of Wagner’s wonderful treatment of strings.” You can read the full concert notes on this piece by clicking here.