Cadenza: Tan Dun Brings Nature’s Secrets to The Orchestra Now

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“The Orchestra Now gives hope. Founded in 2015 by Leon Botstein, TŌN is comprised of Master’s Degree students at Bard College, and can be found performing all over the city, including at Lincoln Center, Carnegie Hall, and Metropolitan Museum of Art — sometimes for free. Like the student orchestra at Tanglewood, and Miami’s New World Symphony, they’re capable of just about anything, and more than their professional counterparts, they really exude a personal love of music. And they rise to the occasion of encountering international stars like Tan Dun.

TŌN’s winds play with a dark, mellow timbre, rounded intonation, and a keen blend. The strings have a honey-like sheen and the violin section displays more rhythmic vitality than many orchestras. They sound terrific.

Underscoring the group’s educational underpinnings, it’s terrific how TŌN’s musicians are encouraged to contribute to the program notes, and to speak to the audience to introduce the repertoire. Their enthusiasm for the material, and their craft, is palpable. The concert concluded with an fervent reading of Ottorino Respighi’s early-twentieth-century four movement tone poem The Pines of Rome. As the first orchestral work to utilize an electronic recording (the third movement ends with a recording of the nightingale, as specified by the composer), it’s a fitting pairing with Dun’s Secret of Wind and Birds. The off-stage trumpet solo in the second movement was played with warm lyricism by Anita Tóth, and the third movement’s clarinet solo masterfully played by Viktor Tóth.” —Brian Taylor