On 500th anniversary of Protestant Reformation, Minnesota Orchestra premieres Currier’s “Re-Formation”

Posted on: November 27, 2017

“ ‘Lutherans: Shaking Things Up Since 1517,’ boasted the T-shirt of the woman ahead of me at a Reformation-themed concert at Orchestra Hall [in Minneapolis] early this month, with Osmo Vänskä conducting the Minnesota Orchestra,” writes James Oestreich in Wednesday’s (11/23) New York Times. “The woman swayed to the tune of Luther’s signature hymn, ‘A Mighty Fortress Is Our God,’ as used by Mendelssohn in his ‘Reformation’ Symphony. She swooned to Johann Gottlieb Naumann’s ‘Dresden Amen,’ a cadential figure similarly adopted by Mendelssohn (and later, by Wagner and Bruckner)—as did we all, so beautifully did the orchestra’s strings play it. But that concert’s main event was ‘Re-Formation,’ a work by Sebastian Currier commissioned for the occasion and the latest in a centuries-long line of musical commemorations” of the Reformation. “Mr. Currier has built his early movements around snippets of Mendelssohn’s symphony … then shifted the focus from 16th- and 19th-century spiritual concerns to present-day environmental ones, ending with a choral text by Sarah Manguso…. The work, in its shift from sacred to secular, from brimming confidence to the slimmest thread of hope, is harrowingly effective.” Also on the program were Mendelssohn’s Reformation Symphony and Bach’s Orchestral Suite No. 2.

Posted November 27, 2017

Pictured: The Minnesota Orchestra performs Sebastian Currier’s “Re-Formation” at Orchestra Hall in Minneapolis. Photo by Courtney Perry