Spring for Music offers fresh twist on orchestral programming

Posted on: June 1, 2011

In the June 6 issue of the New Yorker, Alex Ross writes, “Spring for Music, a freewheeling new festival of North American orchestras, which unfolded in early May at Carnegie Hall, is premised on the idea that the programming of classical concerts isn’t nearly as lively as it could be. … The mechanical reshuffling of canonical repertory creates the impression that classical music is all-purpose fabric that can be cut by the yard. … Great programs create a kind of invisible drama, establishing narrative connections between pieces that may or may not be directly related. … Such a realm seemed to materialize during a Spring for Music concert by the Oregon Symphony—the highlight of the festival and one of the most gripping events of the current season. Carlos Kalmar, a Uruguayan conductor of the Oregon since 2003, devised a program titled ‘Music for a Time of War.’ He opened with Ives’s mystical miniature ‘The Unanswered Question,’ whose unspecified query to the universe was here interpreted as ‘Why do people fight?’ … Spring for Music—which also hosted the Orpheus Chamber Orchestra, the Toledo Symphony, the Albany Symphony, the Dallas Symphony, the St. Paul Chamber Orchestra, and the Montreal Symphony—felt fresh at every turn. Of thirty-one composers featured, all but twelve are still living, and only four came from the pre-1900 era.”

Posted June 1, 2011