BWW Interview: Conductor Ian Niederhoffer of PARLANDO, a new musical ensemble
Parlando con "Parlando" chief Ian Niederhoffer.
It's always exciting to witness the birth of a new musical ensemble. BroadwayWorldClassical speaks to PARLANDO founder and conductor Ian Niederhoffer about his inaugural concert at Merkin Hall, November 6th.
Let's begin with the name: "Parlando" - what is its significance?
Parlando is an Italian musical term meaning singing "in a speech like manner." The name reflects our desire to make classical music more accessible by speaking to the audience about the historical and programmatic context of each piece.
As a conductor and musical director, what are you looking for in musicians for your orchestra?
I'm looking for thoughtful, enthusiastic musicians who care about classical music beyond the notes on the page. Many members of the ensemble are players I know from school and festivals and admire for both their playing and their insights on classical music. I hope Parlando conveys the joy I've had performing and speaking with these wonderful musicians.
This maiden voyage of your orchestra is a very ambitious one - why these particular works?
Music has a unique way of capturing the spirit of its time. Unlike a history book or documentary, music can channel how it feels to live at a particular moment. I was drawn to these three pieces because they bring that process of remembering to life. I've loved the Strauss for years and am fascinated by how he deals with the legacy of Beethoven and German culture in the wake of World War II. By writing this devastatingly beautiful piece on a theme of Beethoven's, Strauss puts his stamp on a German musical heritage that was co-opted by the Nazis for destruction and hate. It's a powerful emotional journey. The Dutilleux is remarkable because he takes that moment when you see something spectacular and think "I'm going to remember this," and he puts it into music! It's a stunning piece. As for "Banner," it's so rare to hear a piece that vividly captures the spirit of our time. By using our national imagery as fluently and sensitively as she does with the Star Spangled Banner, Montgomery brilliantly captures how our American symbols mean different things depending on who is looking at them.
The concept of "movement" or "Change" is emblematic to selections - is that by design?
I picked the selections around the concept of memory, so I think it's natural that change accompanies memory. Memories change as we access them, after all.
Another commonality is the fact that two of the pieces were commissioned by the same person - Paul Sacher - a happy accident? Or all part of the plan?
A happy accident, but when you're programming 20th century works for chamber orchestra, it's hard to not run into his commissions! It's really a testament to his incredible contributions to 20th century classical music.
What are your short term (season) and long term (future) goals for your group?
This season, I'd love to put on one more orchestral concert, likely with a program of classical music cabaret pieces! However, my main focus for the rest of the season is to create specific chamber music programs for schools and cultural centers to bring small-scale concerts around the city. Long term, I'd love to have regular Parlando concerts and build our audience. We're an educational organization at heart, and our priority is bringing our programs to as many people as possible.
Parlando's goal is to make classical music more accessible without modifying the music, and I think context and concert presentation are great ways of making that happen. Each concert will feature speaking between each piece, explaining some context about the piece and how it fits into the overall program, like an annotated playlist. From a presentation perspective, our programs list the duration of each piece and have a rating system (think chili peppers at a Thai restaurant) for how avant-garde and challenging each piece is. Classical musicians know what to expect when they see a piece programmed, so it's only fair that new audiences should know what to expect as well.
What do you hope people leave the concert saying about Parlando?
I hope people leave saying, "I liked that, I learned something, when is the next one?"
BroadwayWorld Classical wishes to thank Ian Niederhoffer for taking time from his preparations to chat with us and we wish Parlando great success with its inaugural concert and we hope to hear a lot more from them in the future!
-Peter Danish, Classical Editor
PARLANDO at Merkin Hall
Wednesday | November 6 2019 | 8 pm
129 West 67th Street
(btw Broadway and Amsterdam)
New York, NY 10023
T 212 501 3330
Ian Niederhoffer, Conductor
JESSIE MONTGOMERY - Banner
HENRI DUTILLEUX - Mystère de l'instant
RICHARD STRAUSS - Metamorphosen
For TICKETS HERE