There’s something a little frustrating about being an orchestral musician, which is that you never get to choose what you play. The programming takes place in an office far away from your place of work, on the stage, and you just have to show up and do the job at hand. I love my job, but this lack of control is an inescapable downside.
In contrast, a small series like ours with a small number of enthusiastic musicians can program works that really matter to us. Every piece on every concert was suggested by a musician. Every piece has a personal story associated, one which we will certainly share with you during the performances as well as here, on the website, in advance. Yes, many of these works were my suggestions, and yes, there is a lot of OBOE represented on the series – but it is important to me to keep this project collaborative and I expect that in future years the programming will be even more excitingly eclectic than it is now.
How eclectic is it, you ask? We have music composed two hundred and fifty years ago, music from one hundred years ago, and music that is still being written. We have music by Mozart, Milhaud, and Ibert – European white men with real reputations – and music by contemporary American composers you probably don’t know yet, like Jenni Brandon and Jeremy Gill. We have music by local composers, living right in this town – Marjorie Rusche and Steve Ingle. There’s music for string quintet and reed trio, but also for more unexpected combinations like oboe and two percussionists, or clarinet and cello.
In some cases, these are pieces I have ached to perform for a long time. The Britten Phantasy Quartet, for example, on our February 2 concert. Like all of Benjamin Britten’s works, it is deeply intelligent. There is a lot of complexity in the construction and in the harmonic language, which of course I completely dig – but it’s also got a terrific energy arc, taking the listener from the softest string pizzicatos through an intense march to a beautiful, liquid oboe cadenza and all the way back to a single cello note. Perfect.
In other cases, the works are quite new to me – Jeremy Gill’s Soglie, Serenate, Sfere is one example. Jeremy and I were at Eastman together, and he lived across the hall from me, and accompanied me on piano for at least one performance, and composed a piece for my oboe trio which we played for our final senior recital, and has the same birthday as me! In other words, I’ve known and respected him for years, but I do not have a long history with his large-scale 2009 work for oboe and percussion. I’ve heard a recording, I like it, and I have two outstanding percussionists on board, but I have no idea what the performance experience will be like or what to expect when we begin rehearsals. Can. Not. Wait.
Although we have our plans very much in place for this year, we’re always looking for additional ideas for future seasons. Please feel free to get in touch. Let us know what you’d like to hear. In fact, how about this? Donate. Connect with us. Be involved. It’s more fun when you have some ownership in the project, as I’m learning. Would you visit our Indiegogo page and consider offering some support? Every little bit helps, and if you can’t donate, would you at least tell your friends? All of them – the Mozart lovers and those who want something new and extreme. The musically literate and those who want to sample our tasting menu.
Later in this series: The Musicians. The Music. The Organizations. The People. The Venue. The Success of the Fundraising Venture. Stay tuned!