Tales of thwarted love frequently do well on stage, and the story of Heloise and Abelard is no exception. This dramatic tale, discovered by scholars through recovered love letters, is all the richer for being true: passionate love between a tutor-philosopher, Abelard, and his brilliant student, Heloise; an unexpected pregnancy; a violent castration. It is cinematic or—as composer John Austin ’56, LL.B. ’60, thought—operatic.
The Boston Modern Orchestra Project called its program of five "unexpected concertos" at Jordan Hall Friday "Strange Bedfellows." None (well, almost none) of the music induced slumber, however. Created for an odd array of solo instruments (viola, electric guitar, theremin, mandolin, French horn) accompanied by instrumental ensembles of various size and composition, the works prodded at the frontiers of traditional concerto form. Electronic and acoustic sounds engaged in conversation - sometimes in rancorous argument - across the centuries, forcing us to rethink this venerable genre.
Leave it to the Boston Modern Orchestra Project (BMOP) to completely revitalize the concept of a concerto concert. This past Friday night at Jordan Hall, the orchestra, conducted by music director Gil Rose, presented a thoroughly energizing and invigorating concert of five concerti written by composers born between 1923 and 1979.
Billed as Strange Bedfellows: Unexpected Concertos, the program featured concertos for, respectively, viola, electric guitar, mandolin, theremin, and horn.
If you're one of those concertgoers who look forward most to the concerto, the Boston Modern Orchestra Project, led by its artistic director Gil Rose, had a concert for you Friday night at Jordan Hall.
For Andrew Norman, the acts of playing music and composing music have always been intimately linked - at least since he was 6, which is when a piano arrived in his family's house, their first musical instrument.
"I was always making up things," said Norman by phone during a recent call from London, where he was having a piece performed. "No one in my family was musical, so I was able to fool my parents into thinking I was practicing."
For a composer known of because of his 67 symphonies and seven operas this disc presents Hovhaness the miniaturist.
2011 was a very fruitful year for recording projects by members of the Department of Music. Eric Moe, Nathan Davis, Bryan Wright, Donna Amato, and IonSound Project all released new CDs.
Boston Modern Orchestra Project released a CD of music by composition professor Eric Moe on the new BMOP Sound label. Kick and Ride takes its title from the Moe's concerto for Drum Set and Orchestra with Robert Schulz as soloist. The CD also contains earlier Moe works Superhero and Eight Point Turn.
Imagined Armenias. Undoubtedly, Alan Hovhaness stands as an American original. He has taken from very few. He sounds like nobody else. You can tell a Hovhaness work within a few seconds. Others have even made use of his innovations without, of course, his unique poetry or giving him any credit at all. Hovhaness composed music easily -- like writing a letter, as he put it. Forget Mozart and the Marriage of Figaro overture. Hovhaness, dissatisfied with a symphony in rehearsal, did turn out an entirely new movement in a night.
Andrew Norman '09AD has been named the new Composer-in-Residence for the Boston Modern Orchestra Project (BMOP).
BMOP is dedicated to commissioning, performing, and recording new orchestral music. It was one of five orchestras nationwide selected for an extended Music Alive residency, a program of Meet the Composer and the American Symphony Orchestra League. Andrew Norman will be the 2011–2013 Music Alive Composer-in-Residence.
In making the announcement, BMOP cited Norman's "wit, clarity and vigor, as evident in his music."
Geographically, Canada is not that far away from Boston. Some of the Canadian music heard Sunday afternoon at Jordan Hall, however, sounded like it was coming from a much greater distance.
The Boston Modern Orchestra Project began its subscription season Sunday with "True North," featuring four composers with ties to our neighbor country. Conductor Gil Rose led his solid ensemble in works by Kati Agócs, Colin McPhee, Michael Colgrass and Claude Vivier, which may not have uncovered any cohesive national identity, but certainly offered much artistic creativity and informed musicianship.
"It's funny. When it started, I really thought that after a while it would change," says Gil Rose, artistic director of the Boston Modern Orchestra Project.
"It's been fifteen years, and producing concerts and making recordings has become an always and forever state. It's fun for me personally, but I really thought that it would get easier over time."
Indian music in the classical world seems somehow out of place. With some exceptions, notably Philip Glass’s opera Satyagraha or John Harbison’s Mirabai Songs, and after Ravi Shankar and George Harrison, the advent of Bollywood and — most recently — the huge success of Slumdog Millionaire (Jai Ho seems to be on infinite repeat at almost every wedding I’ve been to, Indian and non-), India seems to have pervaded pop culture more than anything else. So the Boston Modern Orchestra Project concert at NEC’s Jordan Hall on the evening of May 27 raised intrigue.
"Sangita: The Spirit of India’’ was the title of the Boston Modern Orchestra Project’s season-ending concert Friday night at Jordan Hall. And the program was as dense as the hot, humid, subcontinent-like weather outside, with world premieres by three New England-based composers and a North American premiere by early-20th-century English composer John Foulds.
I had been looking forward to this concert ever since I saw an earlier misprint last September claiming Sangita would be performed in November. The BMOP site finally posted the right date. Ever since I heard the Modern Jazz Quartet's “Music From the Third Stream” album, I've always held my breath, anticipating the performance of the next composition embracing cultural or aesthetic fusion. Would I be treated to a work of great beauty, depth and complexity, or assaulted by a failed attempt that crashed on the shoals, maybe near something deep, but drowning nonetheless?
The Boston Modern Orchestra Project (BMOP) will present the final piece in its three-part series on campus this Sunday.
BMOP is dedicated to playing American music composed in the 20th and 21st centuries. The orchestra presents contemporary interpretations of traditional forms of music, geared toward a new generation of listeners. Under the direction of Gil Rose, BMOP has gained renowned popularity and national praise.
The performance will commemorate the historic but little-known rescue of Bulgaria’s 49,000 Jews from the Holocaust by ordinary citizens who rose up in civil disobedience and demanded that Bulgaria’s Jews be spared from Nazi extermination.
Combining all of the art forms as it does in a live setting, opera is the ultimate human creation. A cursory look at the history of the genre reveals that, at its best, opera remains a step ahead of culture whether in the form of the cutting-edge eighteenth-century operas of Mozart, or the nineteenth-century “music dramas” of Wagner, which even managed to foresee much of what became twentieth-century cinema.
The future of opera is a hotly debated topic these days with the Metropolitan Opera’s general manager Peter Gelb taking to the op-ed pages of the New York Times to defend his company’s new emphasis on cinematic-style stagings and HD broadcasts to theaters around the country. Others have questioned what this means for the role of the human voice as opposed to production values and what movie-priced broadcasts do to performance troupes in smaller cities.
When the eleven robots glide gracefully out on the stage of the Harris Theater to take their curtain call with the cast, composer and conductor of Death and the Powers—and bow their triangular heads in unison—-it’s hard to maintain any lingering objection to Tod Machover’s envelope-pushing, thought-provoking and brilliantly executed opera, a work that raises serious contemporary themes while mostly refusing to take itself too seriously.