Tonight my wife and I joined over a thousand at Boettcher Concert Hall in
The defining element of this piece is the incredible use of spatial writing. Perhaps half the performers in this giant work were spread around the hall. Boettcher was particularly fantastic as it is a completely round hall with unlimited possibilities for staging true surround sound.
This was truly an amazing spectacle. Allan McMurray (celebrated wind conductor) described this as a theatrical piece of music. Quite true… The complexity of textures that were delivered to the ears from so many vantage points offered a truly unique experience. This could not be duplicated with any surround sound system I have ever heard.
I really loved the piece. It had a raw power that I rarely hear outside of Corigliano’s output. Although I am sort of a meats and potatoes, harmony and counterpoint sort of composer, I do enjoy the simple power and beauty of raw sound or even noise. Our auditory environment has become so complex in our mechanized and electric world. This work tapped into that energy and harnessed it beautifully.
Perhaps the most interesting thing for me to think about during the concert was how were others in the audience processing the piece. Much of the piece is ear splitting loud (it ends with a shotgun). Our audience was made up of a mix of ages and I was quite sure that many of them had never heard concerts that were so loud. A few people walked out at various points. At those moments I thought this piece was indeed pushing the boundaries of how outside the bounds of “normal” most audiences can stomach. I thought perhaps everyone was shell shocked and were just politely waiting till the 3rd act when Dave Grusin would perform some Bernstein. I was dead wrong. The standing ovation at the end of the piece was quite immediate and truly earnest. I have never witnessed such a positive response to a new piece of music (and I was present at the premiere of Jennifer Higdon’s percussion concerto). The mastery of this piece is that John Corigliano’s auditory vision is so unique and compelling that a hall filled with average concert goers overcame any inhibition to the “new” and came to instantly love something shockingly different than anything they had ever heard in an orchestral concert hall.
On the right days, new music has an amazing power…