David Cutler: piano
Roger Dannenberg: trumpet
Emmett Goods: trombone
Ian Gordon: trumpet
Emily Hawkins: percussion
Ron Horton: trumpet
Dan Lindley: baritone saxophone
Ben Opie: alto saxophone, clarinet, theremin
Chris Parker: guitar
John Petrucelli: tenor saxophone, flute
Lou Stellute: tenor saxophone
Paul Thompson: bass
David Throckmorton: drums
Reggie Watkins: trombone
Nizan Leibovich: conductor
On Tuesday night, I was fortunate to be able to attend the second performance of Ben Opie‘s concert-length composition entitled Concerto For Orkestra. Like the first performance of the piece, which I also witnessed, this took place at another of Pittsburgh’s various beautiful concert venues, East Liberty’s Kelly-Strayhorn Theater.
Admittingly, I do not see many composed, orchestrated performances…musical, theatrical, whatever. So, something that was fascinating to me was the idea of going into this performance knowing the exact piece that was going to be played by the almost exact same ensemble as last time. I loved being able to recognize some of the movements quite well but also having some seem completely new, like I had never heard them before. Also, during the parts that I was familiar with from the debut, I was fascinated at how different some of them sounded. I think the room may have had something to do with this. For better or for worse, the sound in the Strayhorn seemed to me to be more muted and blended or darkened, whereas at the previous performance at the Hazlett, I remember the individual instruments sounding more shining and clear. I’d heard that part of the reason for Ben to do this show was to get a good recording of it. For his sake, and for the world’s, I hope that he did and that many people will be able to enjoy and appreciate this incredible work.
It truly is amazing to me that someone can not only play an instrument extremely well (see the blazing solo in the video above!) but also compose a complete piece of music like this. My impression was that it was even more cinematic and thematic than last time. The dark and abstract sections were even more mysterious and suspenseful than I remembered and the upbeat movements were more swinging. Definitely worth the second listening/viewing.
Ben wrote a really nice message on his blog that summed up his post-show reflections. Read the whole post HERE. Here’s an excerpt from that as well as a few photos from the night. Enjoy!
“…the work is a pretty intense experience. Probably from a listening standpoint, definitely from the player’s view. But even now I catch myself…any more intense the Rite of Spring? Turangalîla-Symphonie? No, of course not. (Although, Turangalîla was a model for a ten-movement work. My piece is not nearly as dense.) You’ll drive yourself crazy making such comparisons. But, it is a 75-minute extended aural experience. Hills and valleys, ups and downs, boredom and excitement, laughs and….not-laughs. An overarching experience for over an hour.”