Many of us remember a 1986 Nonesuch recording of an exciting orchestral piece by American composer John Harbison (b. 1938) called Ulysses Bow (later released on First Edition, but no longer available). However, upon reading the album notes, we discovered much to our chagrin that it was only the last half of a full-length ballet. With this enterprising release from BMOP/sound, we now have the complete score.
In the Times, Allan Kozinn provided a typically sagacious and deftly written account of the first major concert of the MATA—Young Composers Now! series at the Brooklyn Lyceum (on April 1). The concert closed with the New York premiere of Lisa Bielawa’s Double Violin Concerto, which was played with saintly elegance by Carla Kihlstedt and Colin Jacobsen, backed by Gil Rose and the excellent Boston Modern Orchestra Project.
The MATA Festival is celebrating its 10th season, partly by showing off how far it has come since its early days as Music at the Anthology, a new-music series resident at the Anthology Film Archives. Since the Anthology days the festival has traveled a circuit of churches and small halls, but for the last couple of years it has been ensconced at the Brooklyn Lyceum, an old public bath converted into a concert hall.
I caught the Boston Modern Orchestra Project (BMOP) at the MATA Festival Tuesday night in Brooklyn.
1. Gil Rose and BMOP played a varied concert with conviction and panache Tuesday night. While there were wonderful soloists on the program, the ensemble really held the spotlight the entire night in the best possible sense - always blending well and making the most of lines, accompaniment and ensemble.
Four world premieres in one night is ambitious even by the Boston Modern Orchestra Project’s standards, but Saturday’s novelty at Jordan Hall was also an old-fashioned Boston tryout for a New York opening: This week, conductor Gil Rose and the group bring the program to Brooklyn’s MATA Festival, an annual new-music showcase previously run by BMOP’s current composer-in-residence, Lisa Bielawa.
On Saturday night the New England Conservatory’s teal and gilt Jordan Hall enjoyed the premiere of no fewer than four new works by living, breathing composers and performed by the Boston Modern Orchestra Project, which parties where symphony orchestras fear to tread. Bucking both contemporary and traditional expectations, provoking appreciation and conversation, this was a night of risks that paid off handsomely.
Critics Rating: 4 out of 5 stars
Since its 1996 inception, the Boston Modern Orchestra Project (BMOP for short) has quickly pushed its way to the forefront of contemporary-music organizations in this country. Under the leadership of conductor Gil Rose, BMOP’s founder and artistic director, the ensemble has presented nearly 40 premieres, half of which it commissioned. It has also been active on the recording front, issuing 13 discs on a variety of labels.
That’s the title of Lisa Bielawa’s impressive debut CD. Long known as a singer in Philip Glass’s ensemble, she is now making her mark as a composer, one expansive collaboration at a time.
At a time when pundits continue to predict the death of physical recordings, the always-against-the-grain Boston Modern Orchestra Project (BMOP) has launched a new CD label, BMOP/sound. Their initial release is the first complete recording of John Harbison’s 1984 ballet Ulysses. Nine additional releases are scheduled to come out a month at a time for the remainder of 2008.
Friday’s wide-ranging Boston Modern Orchestra Project concert demonstrated how unhelpfully vague the umbrella term “modern music” can be. Some New England Conservatory link was the only correspondence among the disparate works, gathered under the title “Boston ConNECtion” (and performed under Jordan Hall’s architecturally ill-mannered “New England Conservatory” signboard, which continues to intrude on the season’s concert experience like a dinner-time telemarketer).
BMOP has become so popular, you have to look hard in the program to find its full name: Boston Modern Orchestra Project. Founder Gil Rose and his outstanding ensemble celebrated their 10th season at the New England Conservatory on Friday with their annual concert devoted to Boston composers. An enthusiastic and diverse audience (diverse especially in age) cheered, whistled, and hooted its approval for pieces, including two world premieres, by five composers also diverse in age. All the pieces were lively and (unlike Gerontius) fun.
Catherine Stephan, Executive Director of Boston Modern Orchestra Project (BMOP)
Tell us about the Boston Modern Orchestra Project, how it was formed, it’s raison d’etre.
A couple of weeks ago, conductor Gil Rose was sitting in a local Indian restaurant, looking improbably relaxed. As music director of Opera Boston, he had the opening night of Osvaldo Golijov’s flamenco opera Ainadamar looming over his head, and as founder of the Boston Modern Orchestra Project, he had four daunting contemporary scores waiting to be whipped into shape for a concert at Jordan Hall.
I wish that all the people who claim to hate “modern” music had been able to attend Saturday’s concert of the Boston Modern Orchestra Project at Bowdoin College’s new Studzinsky Recital Hall.
Works composed in the 21st century range from Renaissance harmonies through Romantic lyricism to the craggiest of dissonance. The writing varied in quality, but the program transfixed the large audience and held its interest throughout, appealing to the intellect and the emotions.
The Boston Modern Orchestra Project (BMOP), an orchestra devoted exclusively to performing and commissioning new music, has announced it will launch an in-house record label, BMOP Sound, in January.
BMOP Sound will release five world premiere CDs early next year: John Harbison’s Ulysses, Michael Gandolfi’s Y2K Compliant, Gunther Schuller’s Journey Into Jazz (with the composer narrating), Lee Hyla’s Lives of the Saints (with mezzo-soprano Mary Nessinger), and Charles Fussell’s Wilde (with baritone Sanford Sylvan).
“Re-Inventions,” the opening concert of the Boston Modern Orchestra Project’s 11th season, promised “glorious and subversive music for keyboards.” While none of the four pieces heard Friday night fully lived up to either adjective, they did present individual and strikingly resourceful ideas on how the concerto, a timeworn musical form, could be reimagined for the present.
A couple of weeks ago, conductor Gil Rose was sitting in a local Indian restaurant, looking improbably relaxed. As music director of Opera Boston, he had the opening night of Osvaldo Golijov’s flamenco opera Ainadamar looming over his head, and as founder of the Boston Modern Orchestra Project, he had four daunting contemporary scores waiting to be whipped into shape for a concert that takes place this Friday night at Jordan Hall.
The Boston Modern Orchestra Project’s 11th season will focus on concertos, pairing the orchestra with a wide array of local and international soloists. The season, announced today, offers BMOP’s customary mix of the cutting-edge and the merely modern, including no fewer than 10 world premieres.
The eighth annual ASCAP Concert Music Awards will be presented this evening at 5:00 p.m in the Walter Reade Theater at Lincoln Center in New York City. Hosting the invitation-only event will be composer/performer/radio host/comedic luminary Peter Schickele will host the event. (He will not be appearing in the guise of the musicologist from the University of Southern North Dakota at Hoople and authority on P.D.Q. Bach, though he likely to provide more than a few laughs nevertheless.)
Anyone who caught the Ben Folds performance with the Boston Pops last week and was struck by the thinness of the meeting of musical worlds should have been there on Saturday night at Sanders Theatre to hear the Boston Modern Orchestra Project tee off on three bracingly imaginative works infused with rock ‘n’ roll and other popular styles.