Generation X is a term used by demographers to describe the group of people born after the post-World War II baby boom. For much of the term’s history it has tended to be a little pejorative. There are many cultural events that have shaped their identity including the rise of internet culture as well as the emergence of many musical styles and sub genres including electronic and hip hop.
Ah, classical music—where else in our culture can you be in your mid-30s and be celebrated as part of a youth movement?
A small but enthusiastic audience consisting mostly of Baby Boomers and Greatest Generationers cheered on their juniors in New England Conservatory’s Jordan Hall Friday as the Boston Modern Orchestra Project led by Gil Rose presented “Gen OrcXstrated,” a program of three works for large orchestra by composers born in the late 1970s.
This Boston Modern Orchestra Project concert was another of Gil Rose’s theme-based concerts with a catchy name. The pieces were Suite for Eight Violas (1975) by Gordon Jacob, Serenade No. 1 for Viola and Orchestra (1962) by George Perle, Singing Inside Aura (2013) by Chinary Ung, Viola Concerto (2012) by Donald Crockett, and, finally, Xian Shi (1983) by Chen Yi. The selections were disparate in style and affect; a listener certainly comes away with an appreciation for the range of effects from this instrument within modern music.
If you want your concert to be an experience, here’s where the night’s concert begins.
Why did the contemporary-music orchestra give a concert of five works that all featured the viola?
a. because they wanted to make a pun in French
b. because it was St. Violantine’s Day
c. because there’s some good stuff for viola out there
d. the orchestra ordered up two brand-new viola pieces, never heard before
In another masterstroke of imaginative programming for which it is renowned, Boston Modern Orchestra Project, under Music Director Gil Rose, offered a day-late billet-doux to the sultriest member of the string family at Jordan Hall on February 15th. “Voilà! Viola!” consisted of five works featuring the viola, four of them as soloist and one for an ensemble of eight. (one will have to come up with a clever collective noun for this).
In another masterstroke of imaginative programming for which it is renowned, Boston Modern Orchestra Project, under Music Director Gil Rose, offered a day-late billet-doux to the sultriest member of the string family at Jordan Hall on February 15th. “Voilà! Viola!” consisted of five works featuring the viola, four of them as soloist and one for an ensemble of eight.
And now, it might be asked, should we pity the viola? It is after all consigned to an unglamorous middle range, and is ever on the receiving end of all that merciless skewering (if you don’t know what I mean, type “viola jokes” into Google, or ask anyone who has played in an orchestra).
The first American production of any of Michael Tippett's five operas was Sarah Caldwell's The Ice Break for the Opera Company of Boston in 1979. In 1991, BU students did The Knot Garden. This year, Opera Boston scheduled the first Boston production of The Midsummer Marriage, Tippett's first opera (completed in 1952, after six years of work). But Opera Boston folded.
Under Rose, the unflagging orchestra poured out voluminous and crystalline sound
Saturday night Jordan Hall was, perhaps, half full for three hours of memorable music as Gil Rose conducted Boston Modern Orchestra Project in a concert performance of Michael Tippett’s 1955 opera, The Midsummer Marriage.
The orchestra and chorus gave a fine reading of the music; the second act instrumental interludes were especially memorable.
One door closes, another opens. With the demise of the ambitious company Opera Boston last year, director Gil Rose lost a chance to explore some of the gems in the outermost reaches of the stage repertory.
Fear not. Rose simply brought one such rarity, Michael Tippett’s The Midsummer Marriage—slated last season for Opera Boston but left unperformed—to his other adventurous ensemble, the Boston Modern Orchestra Project. BMOP performed a semi-staged version of the mid-20th century opera Saturday evening at Jordan Hall.
Midsummer Marriage… a perfect vehicle for the no-challenge-too-great BMOP and its inimitable leader.
Before a note was played, Saturday night’s Boston Modern Orchestra Project performance of Michael Tippett’s first mature opera, “The Midsummer Marriage,” generated more good will and broader public curiosity than the average season-opener. That’s because the now-defunct Opera Boston had this rarely spotted Tippett opera on its agenda long before the company abruptly folded last December.
Rose led the large orchestra in a reading of the score that honored the sparkling, richly melodic vein in Tippett's writing, the impressionistic melding of ancient and modern sound worlds, and the admirable fluidity of his craft.