This week I am subbing in the Illinois Philharmonic Orchestra, playing Scheherezade and a 2007 Michael Daugherty Piano Concerto called Deus Ex Machina. This is exactly the kind of program I love to do – there’s a new work which is thrilling and energetic and which the audience will not have heard before but will undoubtedly respond to, and an old warhorse which is popular for very good reason. Nothing not to like here.
Deus Ex Machina is a tribute to trains – the first and third movements are full of driving rhythms and crunchy, whistly tone clusters, and the second (which I’ve only listened to – we’ll rehearse it tonight) is deeply moving and tells the story of Abraham Lincoln’s funeral train as it traveled from Washington, DC, back to his home in Springfield, IL. Which, irrelevantly, is where my first real orchestra job was located. I’ve visited Lincoln’s Springfield home, and his tomb there. I feel warmly toward the town.
Meanwhile, Scheherezade is Nikolai Rimsky-Korsakov’s exploration of the Arabian tales of the 1001 Nights. Each movement is bookended by the solo violin, representing Scheherezade herself, and then tells a different fantastical story. Infinitely romantic, richly orchestrated, and full of expansive solos for nearly every instrument, this piece is both a crowd pleaser and an enjoyable night for the orchestra musicians.
We’re all looking forward to the concert, which will be Saturday night at 8, at Lincolnwood North HS in Frankfort, IL. As I write this, their website seems to be down- but feel free to check later at ipomusic.org for more details.