BMOP Season Opening Concert Celebrates New Music Champions, 10/29
The Boston Modern Orchestra Project (BMOP), the nation's premier orchestra dedicated exclusively to commissioning, performing, and recording new orchestral music, kick-starts its 22nd season with an appreciative salute to multi-generational composers and artists who have led and continue to be leading the contemporary music vanguard. Featuring two resolute proponents of new music, guest soloists Conor Hanick (piano) and Matt Haimovitz (cello), the program includes the regional premiere of Matthew Aucoin's first concerto, as well as pieces by William Schuman, David Sanford, and John Harbison.
"These four composers represent varying eras of the classical music field," says Gil Rose, Artistic Director and Conductor of BMOP. "We are honored to pay homage to William Schuman, a true leader both in and out of the concert hall, as well as our long-time friend John Harbison, who both helped build and strengthen contemporary music's very foundations through advocacy and leadership as well as prolific composition. At the same time, it is thrilling to celebrate the artistry of some of today's top advocates in the field including the 'cellist without borders' Matt Haimovitz."
The program begins with a piece by Pulitzer Prize-winning composer William Schuman (1910-1992). Judith, Choreographic Poem (1949) was commissioned by the Louisville Orchestra for dancer/choreographer Martha Graham. The story of Judith has its foundations in an ancient fertility rite symbolizing femininity, isolation, and mourning. Critically acclaimed for his craftsmanship, Schuman incorporated American jazz and folk traditions into his works during a musical career that spanned more than 60 years. As an educator (president of the Juilliard School) and administrator (founding president of Lincoln Center), he championed American music, composers, and performers. Composition was his first love, and he never allowed his other duties to interfere. He said the "continuum in my life has always been composition."
Representing the future generation is Boston native, Harvard alumnus Matthew Aucoin (b.1990). Described by The New York Times as "opera's great 25-year old hope," Aucoin is the newly-appointed Artist-in-Residence at Los Angeles Opera, and a promising composer, conductor, pianist, poet and critic extending well beyond opera. BMOP presents the Massachusetts premiere of his first piano concerto, Concerto for Piano and Orchestra (2016) featuring the diverse musical abilities of pianist Conor Hanick, a "true champion of contemporary music" (NPR). According to Aucoin, the three movements of this concerto manifest three distinct relationships to time and in the relationship between the soloist and the orchestra. "In the first movement, the relationship between soloist and orchestra is tense and volatile. The second movement is a consolation. Here, both piano and orchestra seek to prolong the experience; the musical material is newly warm, even tender. The third movement is the piano's "escape act."
A concert highlight will be the return of cellist, musical pioneer, Harvard alumnus Matt Haimovitz, one of classical music's most thoughtful and insightful minds. He joins BMOP in elevating Scherzo Grosso (2006), composed specifically for Haimovitz by David Sanford (b.1963). With a nod to rhythm and blues, straight-ahead hard bop, free jazz, marches, waltzes, metal, Klezmer, and film music, Scherzo Grosso pairs Haimovitz with full orchestra allowing room for improvisation. Sanford graduated from the New England Conservatory, has been teaching at Mount Holyoke College since 1998, and lives in Northampton.
Concluding the program is Diotima (1976) by John Harbison (b.1938). Since 2003 when they premiered his ballet Ulysses, BMOP has been re-discovering and bringing Harbison's music to audiences worldwide. Since then, BMOP has released three recordings of Harbison's work, including Full Moon in March and Winter's Tale on the BMOP/sound label. Harbison lives in Cambridge where he is an Institute Professor at MIT, player/coach/arranger/founder of MIT's Vocal Jazz Ensemble, and pianist with the faculty jazz group Strength in Numbers (SIN). Since 2005, he has frequently directed Tanglewood's Festival of Contemporary Music, and has been Principal Guest Conductor of Boston's Emmanuel Music for 45 years.
The Boston Modern Orchestra Project (BMOP) is the premier orchestra in the United States dedicated exclusively to commissioning, performing, and recording music of the twentieth and twenty-first centuries. A unique institution of crucial artistic importance to today's musical world, BMOP exists to disseminate exceptional orchestral music of the present and recent past via performances and recordings of the highest caliber. Founded by Artistic Director Gil Rose in 1996, BMOP has championed composers whose careers span nine decades. Each season, Rose brings BMOP's award-winning orchestra, renowned soloists, and influential composers to the stage of New England Conservatory's historic Jordan Hall in a series that offers orchestral programming of unmatched diversity. The musicians of BMOP are consistently lauded for the energy, imagination, and passion with which they infuse the music of the present era. For more information, please visit BMOP.org.