BMOP Presents 21st Annual Boston ConNECtion Concert

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As New England Conservatory's (NEC) affiliate orchestra for new music, the Boston Modern Orchestra Project (BMOP) presents the 21st annual Boston ConNECtion concert featuring music by NEC students, alumni, and collaborators. This year's program includes the world premiere of Effleurage by 2020 BMOP/NEC Composition Competition winner Lavell Blackwell, three works by NEC's Malcolm Peyton Composer Artist-in-Residence Joseph Schwantner, as well as a solo violin performance by the 2020 BMOP/NEC Concerto Competition winner Ilana Zaks.

BMOP has a history of performing and promoting works by Boston-based composers, and once a year honors the conservatory's prestigious composition department. "Our 21-year partnership with NEC is built on a mutual commitment to provide a platform for NEC students, faculty and alumni to stage and perform new music," says Gil Rose, Artistic Director and Conductor of BMOP. "Together, we're helping shape the future of young artists."

Opening the concert is the world premiere of Effleurage by Lavell Blackwell, winner of the annual BMOP/NEC Composition Competition. Blackwell is well known as a composer, singer, lyricist, and music director, and is currently pursuing a Doctorate in Composition at New England Conservatory of Music, studying with Dr. Kati Agócs. He has had the honor of winning NEC's Honor's Ensemble Composition Competition twice-for Paces, written for oboe, clarinet, and bassoon, as well as for his string quartet Discarded Vernacular. Both chamber pieces were given world premieres in Jordan Hall.

The program continues with a composer portrait of NEC's Malcolm Peyton Composer Artist-in-Residence Joseph Schwantner (b.1943), one of the most prominent and prestigious American composers today. Known for his dramatic and unique style and as a gifted orchestral colorist, he holds degrees from the Chicago Conservatory and Northwestern University and previously served on the Juilliard, Eastman and Yale faculties. According to American Record Guide, "Schwantner has a canny theatrical sense-his music is always at some level dramatic, never abstract-and that his characteristic idiom, a blending of modal melody with both enriched triadic and highly chromatic harmonies, minimalist ostinatos, and prismatic, floridly ornamented scorings, is used with so much skill and resourcefulness that the listener never notices how disparate are the elements thus unified. Everything works to create the desired sensuous and emotional effusion."

BMOP presents a trio of Schwanter's works: Angelfire (2002) for amplified violin and orchestra featuring the 2020 BMOP/NEC Concerto Competition winner Ilana Zaks (violin); Percussion Concerto #2 (2011) for percussion section, timpani, and orchestra; and the Pulitzer Prize-winning Aftertones of Infinity (1978). The latter is a large orchestral work that includes unusual tone colors coming from, for example, tuned crystal glasses and gentle wordless vocalizing by the members of the orchestra. It is a perfect example of Schwantner's post-1970s abandonment of high-serialist training in favor of a distinctly coloristic, harmonically rich, but solidly tonal sound.

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