Some New Music

We heard some good new music at the PSO this weekend. I can see all of you out there rolling your eyes. “New” Classical Music is assumed to be some soulless abstract exercise in collecting clever compositional tricks and throwing them out at the bewildered audience, while very little of actual interest happens. Well, this piece is different.

Jennifer Higdon’s Concerto for Orchestra is a five movement work that moves from sections for the whole band through solos in all of the major areas of the modern orchestra. The piece is designed to show off the talents of the players, and it does this well. There are features for all the principal players, even the second violins. The piece is more about rhythm and harmony than melody, so the main development is in complex cross rhythms and also in hearing sounds come from unexpected instruments. There is bowed percussion and percussive use of the strings, for example.

The movement featuring the percussion section was the most interesting. Percussion players don’t normally get a lot of attention, much less an entire movement of devotion.

I don’t have a lot more to say about this piece than it was consistently interesting to listen to for its entire half hour length. The music easily connects with the listener and keeps you hooked until the end.

The composer did a little video talk before the show started that they projected up on some screens over the stage. Normally I roll my eyes at this sort of thing, but this time the talk was to the point and not stupid. So I let it go. They didn’t really need to partake in this exercise, the music that came after spoke for itself just fine.

Go buy the CD at Amazon.