Review Roundup: AMERICAN COMPOSERS ORCHESTRA'S 40TH ANNIVERSARY CONCERT at Lincoln Center's Rose Theatre

Review Roundup: AMERICAN COMPOSERS ORCHESTRA'S 40TH ANNIVERSARY CONCERT at Lincoln Center's Rose Theatre

The American Composers Orchestra held their 40th Birthday Concert on November 7 at Jazz at Lincoln Center's Frederick P. Rose Hall. Their next concert is on December 8 at Zankel Hall.

The 40th Birthday Concert and Gala crackles with the energy of ACO's legacy and future . From orchestral jazz to funk to beloved songbook standards, this program celebrates everything American music is and can be.

Honorees of the evening included Jamie, Nina, and Alexander Bernstein, Paul Lustig Dunkel, Ellen and James S. Marcus, Paola Prestini, and Francis Thorne.

The concert featured George Manahan as music director and conductor, Dennis Russell Davies as conductor laureate, Derek Bermel in a clarinet solo, Mikaela Bennett in a voice solo, and Jakub Józef Orli?ski as a countertenor.

Performed at the concert were Elizabeth Ogonek's Sleep and Unremembrance, Leonard Bernstein's Clarinet Sonata, Duke Ellington's Black, Brown & Beige, Francis Thorne's Fanfare, Fugue and Funk, Paola Prestini's Prelude and Aria from Gilgamesh, and selections from the American songbook of George Gershwin, Jerome Kern, and Harold Arlen.

Let's see what the critics had to say!

Anthony Tommasini, The New York Times: The excellent clarinetist Derek Bermel brought warm colorings and moody reflectiveness to the solo part, while subtly drawing out all the jazzy touches. Ideally, we would have reached the point at which an orchestra dedicated to American composers was no longer needed. But we haven't. Still, A.C.O. concerts, rather than feeling like exercises in special pleading, typically come across as celebrations, Tuesday's included.

Joshua Rosenblum, Zeal NYC: The program opened with Fanfare, Fugue and Funk (1972) by Francis Thorne, the principal founder of ACO... There are flashy riffs, theatrical swells, growling brass with wa-wa mutes, and occasional bursts of swing, but the harmonic language is mostly dissonant, and extended sections are cacophonous. Ives seems to have been a strong influence.

Photo: Noah Stern Weber

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