May 5, 2021
For its first performances for an audience since the pandemic began, the Chicago Symphony Orchestra will perform an all-American program called “Fanfare” that includes MTT’s work Street Song for Symphony Brass. The performances will take place May 27–30 at Chicago’s Symphony Center with Michael Mulcahy on the podium. Also on the program are works by Copland, Schuller, Barber, and Bernstein.
Originally composed in 1988, Street Song is a work in three contiguous parts — and interweaving of three songs. The first song opens with a jagged downward scale suspending in the air a sweetly dissonant harmony that very slowly resolves. This moment of resolution is followed by responses of various kinds. The harmonies move between the world of the Middle Ages and the present, between East and West, and always, of course, from the perspective of 20th-century America. Overall the movement is about starting and stopping, the moments of suspension always leading somewhere else. The second song is introduced by a yodellike horn solo. It is followed by a simple trumpet duet. It is folk-like in character and also cadences with suspended moments of slowly resolving dissonance. The third song is really more of a dance. It begins when a trombone slides a step higher, bringing the work into the key of F-sharp and into a jazzier swing. The harmonies here are the stacked-up moments of suspension from the first two parts of the piece. There is a resolution, but it is in the world of a musician who after many after-hours gigs greets the dawn.