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Tuesday, April 15, 2014

Festival Preview: Spring For Music 2014

Acclaimed Carnegie Hall festival starts its final run next month.
by Paul J. Pelkonen
Spring for Music returns to Carnegie Hall next month.
May 5-10 at Carnegie Hall marks the curtain call for Spring For Music. For the past three years, the festival has packed Carnegie with enthusiastic, bandana-waving orchestra supporters from across North America, celebrating the appearance of their local ensembles boldly tackling obscure and sometimes new repertory. The low, subsidized ticket prices (all seats are just $25) have also attracted the budget-minded concert-goer and those curious about 20th and 21st century music.

Unfortunately, 2014 will be the festival's last bandana-waving dance.

This year, the final lineup of Spring For Music leads off with....

New York Philharmonic (May 5)
Yes, that's right. New York's oldest and most venerated orchestra makes a rare Carnegie Hall appearance with the world premiere of the Requiem by its composer-in-residence Christopher Rouse. Featuring the Westminster Symphonic Choir and the Brooklyn Youth Chorus. Alan Gilbert conducts.

Seattle Symphony (May 6)
John Luther Adams just won the Pulitzer Prize for his work Become Ocean, which premiered with that orchestra last year under the baton of Ludovic Morlot. Here, the same orchestra and conductor will give the work's New York premiere, alongside Edgar Varèse's Déserts and Debussy's La Mer.

Rochester Philharmonic (May 7)
Back in 1933, composer Howard Hanson wrote an opera called Merry Mount. Based on the stories of Nathaniel Hawthorne, the opera was a gripping tale of lust and demonic possession against the backdrop of Puritan New England. Merry Mount premiered at the Metropolitan Opera in 1934 but never appeared there again. Here's your chance to hear this unique American opera in a concert performance under the baton of Michael Christie.

Winnipeg Symphony Orchestra (May 8)
Three works receive their US premieres on this program of new music. R. Murray Schafer's Symphony No. 1 is followed by 13 Inuit Throat Singing Games by Derek Charke, featuring throat singer Tanya Tagaq. Finally, the percussive brilliance of Dame Evelyn Glennie returns to the Hall with the first U.S. performance of The Shaman by composer Vincent Ho. Alexander Mickelthwaite conducts.

Cincinnati Symphony Orchestra (May 9)
James Conlon leads the Cincinnati forces in a rare performance of The Ordering of Moses a 1937 oratorio by African-American composer Robert Nathaniel Dett. This performance features soprano Latonia Moore and tenor Roderick Dixon. The work is paired with Harmonium, an orchestral work by the other John Adams.

Pittsburgh Symphony Orchestra (May 10)
This heavy and death-obsessed program seems appropriate for the final night of this festival. Manfred Honeck conducts Requiem and Death in Words and Music, featuring selections from Mozart's final, unfinished composition with narration by Academy Award-winning actor F. Murray Abraham. On a lighter note, this concert also includes the chilling final scene from Dialogues of the Carmelites which chronicles a group of French nuns meeting their fate under the blade of La Guillotine.

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Critical Thinking in the Cheap Seats