In 1948, a small, struggling, semi-professional orchestra in Louisville, Kentucky began a novel project to commission new works from contemporary composers around the world.
The Commissioning Project grew far beyond anyone’s expectations. In 1953, the orchestra received an unprecedented $400,000 grant from the Rockefeller Foundation to commission 52 compositions a year for three years. The new works were to be performed in weekly concerts and recorded for sale by subscription. The international music world was astounded at both the recipient of the grant and the scope of the project.
You can read more if you click on the YouTube link below.
Man, I so wish we could do this. I’m just blown away by this story. I am sure many already know about this, but I sure didn’t!
Here is the film’s trailer:
WOW! And the MAYOR came up with this idea? How amazing is that? Can you imagine?!
For a company its size, I wasn’t expecting an ensemble that sounded as warm and on target as they did. Which I suppose says more about my shortsightedness than their significant abilities, which were under the guidance of Stewart Robertson. The orchestral performance was undoubtedly the highlight of the evening. It was clear that a lot of time and money had been lavished on this good-looking and sounding production.
… and …
The vocal performances themselves were professionally done by the members of Opera San José’s cast of resident artists. On Friday’s performance Jouvanca Jean-Baptiste sang Anna Karenina with her dueling paramours Karenin and Vronsky performed by Isaiah Musik-Ayala and Torlef Borsting respectively. All were watchable performers who projected well with good clarity and stability. I also rather liked Steven Kemp’s romantic, if minimal, sets that were evocative without being fussy.
So while he didn’t like the work, he seemed to think we did our jobs well. I think. If I’m reading correctly.
Me? I really love playing this opera and, at the same time, I sigh before I leave for work because it really drains me — more than you can imagine, really! It’s not an easy opera, I am playing the majority of the time (I have to write in “swab” so I know when I have time to do that!). It’s got some really challenging parts, and uses the full range of the oboe. (Yes, I play down to a low B flat, even on principal oboe, and I also play up to a high G.) I think Carlson writes some really lovely things for oboe. And I do like the vocal stuff I can hear. (Granted, I can’t hear it all.) I do think pulling something off like Tolstoy’s novel is a huge feat. I’m sorry Brian sees it as a failure. But that’s the risk when doing something new.
Still, he did give the company kudos for doing it:
However, you cannot fault the company for giving it their all for a strongly made case of a losing argument. For a recent opera, that’s a sizable risk for an American company these days and they should be acknowledged for it.
Sooooo … any readers out there attend the opera and want to give me your opinion?