Tonight was an event when The Orchestra Now Performs Barber, Strauss, and Schumann in a fantastic concert of challenging, diverse, and intriguing music. The musicians performed with intensity, purpose, and virtuosic brilliance. They delivered moments of excitement, adulation, passion, pathos, and profound serenity.
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Tonight’s concert, Transcendent Triumph and Rachmaninoff’s Symphony No. 2 was suitably billed as the Full InsideOut Concerts™ Experience. This performance by David Bernard and Park Avenue Chamber Symphony honored Rachmaninoff’s masterpiece of Russian romantic music with its soaring emotional heights and virtuosic writing. Bernard’s informative introductions and work with children help educate current and future audiences on symphonic music’s beauty, magnificence, and importance.
Impresario Leon Botstein and The Orchestra Now of Bard College presented at Carnegie Hall – Exodus: Jewish Composers in Exile. This intriguing program title represented the product of Botstein’s brilliant artistic craft and expertise. In addition to a set of rare musical gems bound by history, two New York City premieres were on the program.
The conductor and music director of the ASO, Maestro Leon Botstein, came to the stage. Building anticipation for the concert, he explained that tonight’s program featured musical works of American composers from the Roaring 20s. Botstein delivered a mini musicology introduction for each work. His words thus inspired listeners and brought the music to life, making it relevant, tangible, and understandable.
In 2015, Maestro David Bernard of the Park Avenue Chamber Symphony began his examination into how orchestras might increase their success with the classical music world’s biggest challenge—audience growth. Bernard pondered the difference between people who are classical music enthusiasts—and those less informed about classical music. Bernard hypothesized that the main difference is the lack of an immersive classical music experience in the lives of those who have yet to discover the beauty and power of music. At this moment, the concept of Bernard’s now well-known “InsideOut” was born, and in the coming seasons, he incorporated a new kind of immersive strategy into symphonic concerts. With each successive event, he “tweaked” the model, ultimately developing an approach toward maximizing immersion in classical music concerts.
Performed by the Park Avenue Chamber Symphony at today’s two concerts was Sergei Prokofiev’s delightful Peter and the Wolf featuring WQXR evening host and luminary Terrance McKnight. In this symphonic fairy tale for children, Prokofiev introduced storytelling, the instruments of the orchestra, and abstract thinking associated with how sound can represent images and ideas. This delightful, imaginative experience was pedagogically exceptional for engaging cognitive functions related to symbolic representation, conceptualization, and metaphorical thinking. Most importantly, it was engaging and fun.
With this performance, the Park Avenue Chamber Symphony has fervidly conquered Mahler’s Symphony No. 5, bringing its ineffable, sumptuous beauty and afflatus to life. When listening, one is philosophically transported through time, space, and existence while envisaging the chimera of eternal questions facing humankind.
This notable variety of musical works is apposite for The Orchestra Now, an ensemble of young professionals assembling to hone their skills for careers in music around the world. This evening, under the able baton of conductor Zachary Schwartzman, these artists expanded their repertoire and contexts for their future challenges. Each work provided ample opportunity for solos, marvelous brass, string and wind tuttis, lush strings, and musical poetry.
The Orchestra Now stands proudly in the well-earned tradition of excellence among the superb symphony orchestras that regularly perform in New York City. And while they celebrate major standard repertoire (sometimes called the three B’s – Bach, Beethoven, and Brahms), they take care to include adventurous works that warrant recognition and performance before eager patrons.