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A Flurry Of Premieres For American Orchestras

This weekend Leonard Slatkin leads the Detroit Symphony Orchestra in several premieres, webcast live. Detroit Symphony Orchestra hide caption

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Detroit Symphony Orchestra

How about some good — even great — news from American orchestras? Today and tomorrow, four of the country's biggest ensembles are playing world premieres by prominent composers.

  • First up is the Boston Symphony Orchestra, which tonight is premiering Lakes Awake at Dawn for chorus and orchestra by Latvian composer Ēriks Ešenvalds. It's a joint commission by the BSO and the City of Birmingham Symphony Orchestra in honor of their shared music director, Andris Nelsons, a Latvian conductor who turned 36 Tuesday. For a taste of Esenvalds' haunting music, try his Stars, as performed by the State Choir Latvija. In this program, Nelsons will also lead Pulitzer Prize winner John Harbison's choral scherzo Koussevitzky Said, Rachmaninoff's The Bells and Prokofiev's Symphony-Concerto, featuring soloist Yo-Yo Ma.
  • Also tonight, Detroit Symphony Orchestra music director Leonard Slatkin will conduct his own Endgames, which focuses on woodwind outliers including the piccolo and contrabassoon. He will also lead the premiere of the Trombone Concerto written by his wife, Cindy McTee, with DSO principal trombonist Kenneth Thompkins as soloist; here's her First Symphony. The concert begins with Charles Ives' raucous (and seasonal) Yale-Princeton Football Game, also includes the String Quartet Concerto by American composer Benjamin Lees, and concludes with the perennial Gershwin favorite An American in Paris. Free video streaming of this program begins Friday at 10:45 a.m. Eastern at DSO.org.
  • The Los Angeles Philharmonic and music director Gustavo Dudamel are celebrating the tenth anniversary of the Walt Disney Concert Hall's organ. Tonight, they are premiering American composer Stephen Hartke's Fourth Symphony with organist Cameron Carpenter and soprano Heidi Stober as soloists; here's Hartke's Second Symphony. The program also includes Carpenter's solo transcription of Scriabin's Fourth Sonata, Barber's Toccata Festiva and Saint-Saëns' "Organ" Symphony.
  • Friday, between a pair of Mozart symphonies, the Cincinnati Symphony Orchestra debuts another husband-and-wife outing, this time with violinist Jaime Laredo and cellist Sharon Robinson. The married couple joins music director Louis Langrée for the first performance of the Double Concerto by four-time Oscar winner André Previn. "He knows how to write a tune," Laredo told The Cincinnati Enquirer. "And he really writes from the heart." Here's Previn's 2007 Harp Concerto, performed by the Vienna Philharmonic and conductor Danielle Gatti with soloist Xavier de Maistre.
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