Satisfying Appeal – Bob Lauver

Wow, the weeks seem to be flying by.  This week at work has been quite
busy.  There seem to be meetings between every rehearsal and then
some…….with upcoming tours and new compositions and the Artistic
Advisor (Sir Andrew Davis) in town, it adds up to "busy".  In the "old
days" way back when I played in the St. Louis Symphony Orchestra, the
weeks would get absolutely frenetic when Slatkin was in town.  Some
weeks there would be recordings (are those a thing of the past?) and
along with a 9-service week there would sometimes be two recording
sessions lumped in, sometimes directly after a concert.  Clear the hall
out, close the doors, watch for the red light and go.

We might not be at that pace, but the energy is near the top of the
scale.  With two of our principal players being featured as soloists
(Pete and Cindy), it adds to the excitement even more.  I don’t know if
this is a general feeling, but personally I get quite excited for "our
own" to do well.  We have an incredible pool of talent in our principal
players and when the chance for people from within the orchestra to be
featured comes, it’s an affirmation of the fact that we have not only
orchestral instrumentalists at the peak of the industry, but also
soloists that are the best anywhere.

Yesterday I listened out in the hall to both new works, the Trombone Concerto by our own blogger,  Jennifer Higdon and the Oboe Concerto
by Lucas Richman.  Now in this forum with the obvious delicacies of
politics, friendship, and tact, I will attempt to address the pieces
without showing favoritism or overt opinion concerning the
compositions………HAHAHAHAHAHA!!!  Like that could happen!  I’m not
touching that with a 10 foot pole……come to the concert, you be the
judge.  That being said, both pieces are very appealing and obviously
challenging (not by judging how they are being executed by the
soloists, but from my own experience over the years in hearing things
that are idiomatically difficult for the instruments).  Reading Jennifer’s posts
about the composition process for the trombone concerto is a
must……really insightful.  Lucas has been in front of the PSO since
before I got here in 2000 and this is the first time that I’ve heard a
work of his that wasn’t targeted for kids, or at least played in that
context for school programs at Heinz Hall.  His Hollywood experience
and orchestration talents are abundantly present in his piece.  Both
new works are very accessible and appealing.  I think nowadays that new
compositions are almost considered "politically incorrect" if they are
too accessible to the lay-concertgoer.  I can see why Higdon is a hot
commodity in the orchestra industry (which needs new music that appeals
to patrons, yet doesn’t "patronize").  Richman’s piece sounds so
organically "right".  It’s the sort of feeling that you get when you
hear a Mozart piece that you’ve never heard before, yet it’s familiar.
I think that orchestras might benefit from exploring the talent beyond
the scope of the current habit……there are probably people out there
like Lucas, who are known almost exclusively in one category that have
big talent in other categories.  At the same time, there are probably
instances of "cross-pollination" that shouldn’t be fostered.  Sort of
like the Peter Principal where some people are promoted to their level
of incompetence.   Woo…..I’d better not go further down that road.

Anyway, this concert is a potpourri of appeal.  Appeal with
substance.  Hope anybody with their eyes on this post within driving
distance comes to hear it.

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Feb 16