|Boston Modern Orchestra Project (BMOP) Begins New Season with Four Premieres Written During the Pandemic,|
October 7, 2023, at Boston’s Jordan Hall
Orchestral Works by Living American Composers: John Aylward, Eric Moe, Richard Cornell and Shelley Washington
|BOSTON, MA (For Release 09.18.23) — The Boston Modern Orchestra Project (BMOP), the nation’s premier orchestra dedicated exclusively to commissioning, performing, and recording new orchestral music, begins its 26th season at New England Conservatory’s Jordan Hall, October 7, 2023, at 8:00 p.m. The ambitious program celebrates three world premieres and one East Coast premiere all commissioned by BMOP and written during the COVID-19 pandemic.|
“Orchestras and musicians all around the world stopped performing during the pandemic,” says Gil Rose, Conductor and Artistic Director of BMOP. “Conversely, composers did not stop writing during the pandemic! We are fortunate to have a plethora of new works composed for us over the past few years just waiting for listeners to enjoy. Not surprisingly, all the pieces on this program are musical explorations of introspection, empathy, mortality (and immortality), and time—notions that resonate with most of us.”
The evening begins with Eternal Return (2022), by Worcester-based John Aylward (b.1980), “a composer of wide intellectual curiosity (The Boston Globe).” He describes his new work as “a contemplation on Nietzsche’s idea of the afterlife which he first brought up in the Gay Science and then was later expanded upon by Giles Deleuze. I heard about the idea first from reading Deleuze but later found the Neitzsche thread, which compelled me even more to explore the idea.”
Eric Moe (b.1954), composer of what The New York Times has called “music of winning exuberance,” has a winning spirit that is represented in this new clever, skillfully constructed piece. Featuring himself on piano, The Sweetness of Despair, the Necessity of Hope (2021) is Moe’s personal reflection our current ecological predicament. “I am intrigued by the thinking of writer-activist Rebecca Solnit,” says Moe, “who points out that many people seem to prefer a predictable apocalypse – the consequence of passive inaction – to the less catastrophic but also less predictable future that would result from drastic action spurred by hopefulness about the future.” The two movements of the concerto split the title; the first movement, The Sweetness of Despair, begins and ends with sweetly despairing music while the second movement, The Necessity of Hope, evokes weather-related phenomena with references to storm music of the past. BMOP’s long-standing relationship with Moe includes a 2011 BMOP/sound recording of three of his vivid orchestrations. WQXR Radio hailed Eric Moe: Kick and Ride (#1021): “At times primal and ritualistic and others sophisticated and smoky, this unbridled trio will fuel whatever flames you’re currently fanning.”
Richard Cornell (b.1946), a Boston-based composer who is a longtime member of the Boston University faculty, deftly explores the nature of art and collaboration, highlighting the latent opportunities for artistic license and interpretation within music. Like many composers before him (Ligeti, Carter, Foss, etc.), Cornell explores the subject of time in his latest piece, Time Rift (2023). He explains: “All musicians (listeners are also musicians) think about time. We measure it discretely, granularly, in periodic units, and yet we experience it continuously. Our common descriptors for time question that very nature: time flows, time marches on, time is fleeting, time flies, time cycles, time stands still, time is running out, etc…It is also part of our evolutionary history. In our imagination we remember past events and to rehearse the future ones, and even step out of time and imagine events asynchronously.”
Shelley Washington (b.1991), a composer currently working on her PhD in composition at Princeton, is one of nine composers co-commissioned by New Music USA’s Amplifying Voices which fosters racial and gender equity in new orchestral music. Her piece, Both (2022), premiered at the Aspen Music Festival and School. In her program note, she says that Both was inspired by the many dualities of her life. “In terms of choosing which aspects of myself to include, I started by listing every label I embody which includes the bi- prefix, so starting with bicoastal (lol), and zooming into my being biracial, bipolar, and bisexual. While they aren’t defined specifically in the music, I did my best to highlight textures, gestures, rhythms, and specific instrumentations that I restructured later on in the piece. Every stand-out moment returns at some point in a different contextualization, which is my representation of fluidity: each iteration is valid regardless of the different environments, and each separate thing forms the whole.”
The Boston Modern Orchestra Project (BMOP) is the premier orchestra in the United States dedicated exclusively to commissioning, performing, and recording music of the twentieth and twenty-first centuries. A unique institution of crucial artistic importance to today’s musical world, BMOP exists to disseminate exceptional orchestral music of the present and recent past via performances and recordings of the highest caliber. Founded by Artistic Director Gil Rose in 1996, BMOP has championed composers whose careers span nine decades.
Each season, Rose brings BMOP’s award-winning orchestra, renowned soloists, and influential composers to the stage of New England Conservatory’s historic Jordan Hall in a series that offers orchestral programming of unrivaled eclecticism. Musical America’s 2016 Ensemble of the Year, BMOP was awarded the 2021 Special Achievement Award from Gramophone Magazine as “an organization that has championed American music of the 20th and 21st century with passion and panache.” The musicians of BMOP are consistently lauded for the energy, imagination, and passion with which they infuse the music of the present era. BMOP.org.
Ticketing + Program Information:
Saturday, October 7, 2023, at 8:00 p.m. ET (pre-concert talk at 7:00 p.m.)
New England Conservatory’s Jordan Hall, 30 Gainsborough Street, Boston, MA
Tickets: General $10 and Up. Students: $5. Children Under 16: Free. To purchase, contact BMOP at BMOP.org or by telephone 718.324.0396.
Boston Modern Orchestra Project (BMOP)
Eric Moe, piano
Gil Rose, conductor
Eternal Return by John Aylward (world premiere)
The Sweetness of Despair, the Necessity of Hope by Eric Moe (world premiere)
Time Rift by Richard Cornell (world premiere)
BMOP-Fromm Music Foundation co-commission
Both by Shelley Washington (New England premiere)
BMOP-New Music USA’s Amplifying Voices co-commission