BMOP to Kick Off the New Year with Six Reimagined Brandenburg Concertos, 1/22/16

Boston, MA - Having just accepted the 2016 Musical America Ensemble of the Year award, the Boston Modern Orchestra Project (BMOP) continues its 20th anniversary season with a one-night-only concert celebrating Bach's Brandenburg Concertos. BMOP will perform the "New Brandenburgs," six works commissioned as companion pieces to Bach's six original Brandenburg Concertos as a result of a four-year project by the Orpheus Chamber Orchestra. The program includes the Boston premieres of Brandenburg Gate (inspired by Brandenburg No. 2) by Paul Moravec, Muse (inspired by Brandenburg No. 3) by Christopher Theofanidis, Little Moonhead (inspired by Brandenburg No. 4) by Melinda Wagner, Sea Orpheus (inspired by Brandenburg No. 5) by Peter Maxwell Davies, and Concerto with Echoes (inspired by Brandenburg No. 6) by Aaron Jay Kernis, as well as a performance of A Brandenburg Autumn (inspired by Brandenburg No. 1) by Stephen Hartke.

"The exuberance and free-spirited quality of Bach's Brandenburg Concertos is infectious and inspiring," said Gil Rose, Artistic Director and Conductor of BMOP. This program pays tribute to this groundbreaking set while providing a new perspective on it. It's a familiar framework, but full of original sounds. What better way to offer listeners a chance to make connections between the new music of Bach's day and that of ours?"

In 2006, Orpheus began The New Brandenburg Project, an effort to commission six diverse composers in succession, each of whom was asked to use one of the Brandenburgs as a departure point. Bach provided both the inspiration for and a beguiling link between the distinguished composers, despite their highly distinctive voices. The composers were not required to make their new pieces sound like Bach's, but they did need to stick closely to the original instrumentation. These superb and inventive pieces form a perfect set.

Brandenburg Concerto No. 1 in F was Stephen Hartke's (b.1952) influence for A Brandenburg Autumn (2006). The Cantata Singers gave its Boston premiere in 2011. According to Hartke, his version emerged while living in Germany, "as something of a musical diary of my impressions of living not far from the palace of Charlottenburg, where the dedicatee of Bach's Brandenburgs himself lived."

Inspired by Brandenburg No. 2, the Pulitzer Prize-winning composer Paul Moravec (b.1957) composed Brandenburg Gate (2008). Moravec was moved by the world-altering events of 1989, as the Brandenburg Gate was thrown open and the Berlin Wall torn down. Like Moravec, Melinda Wagner (b.1957) makes use of the B-A-C-H (German notation for B-flat, A, C, B natural) theme, introduced by Bach himself in the monumental Art of Fugue. Wagner offers a whimsical take on Brandenburg No. 4 in Little Moonhead (2009).

Both Christopher Theofanidis (b.1967) and Aaron Jay Kernis (b.1960) took on the all-string Brandenburgs. Inspired by Brandenburg No. 3, Theofanidis makes baroque references, including to Bach's cantata Nun komm, der Heiden Heiland, in his re-imagined work Muse (2007). In Concerto with Echoes (2009), Kernis slyly parts ways with the original orchestration of Brandenburg No. 6 by introducing winds in the second movement of his work.

Rounding out the set is Sea Orpheus (2009) by one of the most important and influential British composers working today, Peter Maxwell Davis (b.1934). Davies takes on the early keyboard concerto format of Brandenburg No. 5, juxtaposed with reflections on a poem by Orcadian poet George Mackay Brown.

About BMOP
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

Related Articles View More Classical Music Stories

More Hot Stories For You

Before you go...

Never Miss a Story
Like Us On Facebook
Follow Us On Twitter
Follow Us On Instagram instagram