Concert Review: Brant’s “Orbits” at Guggenheim Museum

Posted on: June 23, 2009

In Tuesday’s (6/23) New York Times, Anthony Tommasini writes, “Frank Lloyd Wright might never have anticipated this. But the rotunda of his late masterpiece the Guggenheim Museum—which opened in 1959, six months after his death—is an ideal place to perform one of the most mesmerizing and eclectic musical works ever written: ‘Orbits’ for 80 trombones, soprano and organ by the Montreal-born American composer Henry Brant. The East Coast premiere of this 1979 work, conducted by Neely Bruce, took place on Sunday night at the Guggenheim, part of both the museum’s Works & Process series and the daylong citywide festival Make Music New York. … This primordial, organic piece, by turns brutal and celestial, unfolds in thickly layered clusters and a maze of individual trombone lines. Brant’s vision was to have the players surround the audience. That vision was excitingly realized at the Guggenheim. The trombonists were lined up on the walkways that encircle the rotunda, facing in, so that they could see down to Mr. Bruce, who conducted from the path leading up to the lower ring. An enormous rented organ with a row of loudspeakers was placed in a corner of the floor. The soprano Phyllis Bruce sang from on high, though what she sang was not angelic in the conventional sense.”

Posted June 23, 2009