On October 7 and 8 the Buffalo Philharmonic Orchestra concluded their two part series saluting American composers.
Under the direction of Classical conductor Joann Falletta the BPO opened the program with a few selections from the Broadway musical “On the Town” by Leonard Bernstein. More than just a Classical composer, Bernstein was also a talented conductor in hos own right and he composed a number of very successful Broadway productions.
Stepping away from his duties as the BPO Concert Master, Dennis Kim performed the violin solo in the “Violin Concerto No. 1” by modern American Classical and soundtrack composer Philip Glass.
In the Musically Speaking program prior to the concert, Kim noted how Philip Glass’ compositions were difficult pieces to play not because of the complexity of the pieces; but rather, because of the scarcity of composer directions on how the composition should be performed. Kim compared the piece to being more like performing exercises as opposed to a complete musical composition. Indeed Glass does not even name the movements to his Concerto, but simply labels them by the tempo.
While Kim definitely got a physical workout performing the piece – especially his bow arm – he performed the piece with passion and feeling, making it appear effortless.
After an intermission, the BPO returned to the stage for a performance of the piece considered to be the Greatest American Symphony – “Symphony No. 3” by Aaron Copeland. Composed in 1946, Copeland’s Symphony defied the standard practice of the day and eschewed dissonance for consonance.
In the fourth and final movement, Copeland includes part of a composition he wrote in 1942 – “The Fanfare for the Common Man” – a piece written during World War II in response to a request for music honouring heroes. In Copeland’s eyes, the common man going about his labours were the true heroes.
Like Denis Kim and his passion to play, conductor Joann Falletta is not only passionate about her job, but is possessed by it. She doesn’t merely wave the baton – her body becomes an extension of that baton as she conducts the Orchestra. While some conductors offer an auditory experience of a composition, Joann Falletta offers an audio and video experience to her performances as she conducts the pieces.
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