What a symphony using broken school instruments sounds like

Posted on: December 5, 2017

“Has a symphony ever been so noble, yet so whacked?” writes David Patrick Stearns in Sunday’s (12/3) Philadelphia Inquirer. At the Sunday premiere in Philadelphia of David Lang’s Symphony for a Broken Orchestra, scored for broken musical instruments from the Philadelphia public schools, “400 players [were] divided into 10 sections, seated around the edges of the cavernous [23rd Street] armory with the audience inside of that circle. In the center on a raised platform was Jayce Ogren of Orchestra 2001, conducting with his bare hands…. 5:15 p.m. The 400 players of all stripe marched in—from Philadelphia Orchestra players to Mummers—all carrying instruments from the city’s public schools…. 5:20 p.m. The beginning was purely percussive … a soft multitextured rumble…. 5:25 p.m. A tone emerged. Then another, like an orchestra tuning up. Chords sounded dire, like a dying god from a Wagner opera.… 5:37 p.m. Soloists popped out of the groups…. The prevalence of saxophones recalled the extraterrestrial jazz of the Sun Ra Arkestra…. 5:52 p.m. Everything got mellow in harmonic textures that kind of sounded like Debussy with the underbrush of a summer night.… I felt giddy, and as though I’d been some place I hadn’t previously visited.”

Posted December 5, 2017