About This Performance
Tonight’s program features two exceptionally gifted young composer/performers, Timo Andres and Payton MacDonald. Even as an undergraduate at Yale, Timo already had an enviable reputation as a pianist, and rumors of his commanding performance of the Ives “Concord” Sonata reached us even before we had the delight of hearing his own original and imaginative compositions, two of which will be heard this evening, one for the first time ever.
Payton MacDonald came to our attention first as the super virtuoso percussionist in the New York ensemble Alarm Will Sound. The marimba concerto he wrote for himself to perform with that group, Cowboy Tabla/Cowboy Raga, not only exhibits his skills with the mallets, but also reveals his immersion in the structural and modal traditions of Indian music. Like his predecessor in sound and color, Terry Riley, Payton has absorbed several traditions from East and West and forged an attractive and engaging language that offers beauty of sound while exploring new performance techniques.
That same Alarm Will Sound was the group for whom I composed my own Son of Chamber Symphony, a piece that was doubtless inspired by the ensemble’s cheeky, brash, and high-spirited performance style.
The current scene for new music in the U.S. is each year getting more active, more imaginative, and increasingly less concerned with the strictures and canonical notions of good taste that for years seemed to inhibit a natural blossoming of creativity among our young composers. Organizations and groups like Bang on a Can, ICE (International Contemporary Ensemble), eighth blackbird, the string quartet Ethel, and the San Francisco-based Mercury Soul are merging avant garde techniques, technological savvy, and new performance practices from an ever-widening frame of cultural sources. Next season, as part of the Philharmonic’s West Coast/Left Coast festival, we will present Liquid Interface by Mason Bates, a young Bay Area composer who integrates live manipulated samples of environmental sound with a skillful command of the orchestra.
Timo Andres’ Nightjar is written for the Philharmonic’s players, and it takes full advantage of our own virtuosos, especially the mallet players of our percussion section. Before this, we have the pleasure of hearing the composer perform a solo piano work that gives a taste of his own elegant, wry, and subtle musical mind.
Son of Chamber Symphony uses similar forces as its eponymous predecessor, my 1992 Chamber Symphony, a piece that Esa-Pekka Salonen gave some joyously raucous and brilliant renditions on past Green Umbrella concerts.
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