Apr 21, 2013
South Florida Classical Review
By Lawrence Budmen
The New World Symphony’s second annual multi-media cornucopia of new music, dance, film and poetry on Saturday night drew a full house of culturally adventurous South Beach hipsters. Utilizing the full audio and visual resources of the New World Center, the program was a festive celebration of artistic creativity, the music and production values maintaining a consistently high standard.
Ian Dicke’s O Bury Me Not, a NWS commission, is a funky mashup that fuses a 1939 field recording by Texas singer Frank Goodwyn of the western folk standard O Bury Me Not on the Lone Prairie with rumbling commentary from bass trombone and seven-piece ensemble. Low string murmurs accompany the initial recording before the solo instrument roars through the instrumental fabric, seizing the spotlight along with insistent mallet percussion. A return to Goodwyn’s distant recorded voice brings a muted, bluesy wail from the soloist, the score concluding with a final sigh from the cello. Dicke’s terrifically entertaining showpiece was created for Jeremy Morrow whose mastery of the rarely utilized bass trombone shone in frantic sound bursts and long, sliding lines with equal aplomb. Conducting fellow Joshua Gersen led a deft performance, the playing bright and snappy.
New York City Ballet dancer-choreographer Justin Peck created the pas de deux Chutes and Laddersas a co-commission by NWS and Miami City Ballet. A setting of the first movement of Benjamin Britten’s String Quartet No. 1, the work commences in the vein of a typically romantic duo, the pensive lyricism of the Andante sostenuto potently underpinning the elegant choreography. With the sudden force of the Allegro vivo, modernist athleticism takes over, the dancers’ movements rapidly angular.
Peck has crafted a beautiful, propulsive duet that tests the limits of the protagonists’ balletic technique. Two of Miami City Ballet’s brightest lights Jeanette Delgado and Kleber Rebello were stunning, exhibiting grace, speed and athletic musicality. Violinists Vivek Jayaraman and Alexander Chaleff, violist Anthony Parce and cellist Aaron Ludwig gave a subtle, luminous reading of Britten ‘s surging 1941 score, a product of the composer’s productive wartime American residency.
A surround-screen film by video artists Tyler Adams and Pascual Sisto accompanied the performance of Morton Feldman’s Structures for Orchestra. Feldman’s soft, delicate soundscape throbs with wafts of instrumental color, the writing for harp finely textured. Created for large orchestra that is rarely heard playing at full force, this soothing 1961 score does not sidestep rigor or complexity. Michael Tilson Thomas has long been a champion of Feldman’s work. He drew incandescent sonorities and supple timbral shadings from the superb players. Adams and Sisto’s constantly shifting molecular and jelly-like images formed a dynamic video component to Feldman’s meditative strains.
Lineage for Orchestra by Zosha Di Castri is the first in a series of joint commissions by the New World, San Francisco Symphony and music publisher Boosey & Hawkes. This project identifies gifted young composers, offering them hands-on experience working with professional ensembles while creating new scores.
The Canadian born Di Castri, a doctoral student at Columbia University, exhibits a real flair for orchestral coloration. A microtonal chorale for winds forms the work’s recurring motif. Brief references to folk traditions, impressionism and neo-classicism glide through this beautifully orchestrated score. Di Castri is a composer to watch and her piece was a fine beginning for this valuable compositional training program. Tilson Thomas and the orchestra brought enthusiasm, precision and energy to this invigorating work.
The generous program also featured poetry readings by Nicole Sealey, a native of St. Thomas and graduate student at New York University, presented by the O, Miami poetry festival.