At the Pittsburgh Symphony, principal tuba in the spotlight for new Higdon concerto

Posted on: March 15, 2018

“Amidst the constant piano concerto cycles and the steady stream of hotshot violinists who headline Pittsburgh Symphony Orchestra concerts, there’s a concert that stands out like a flamingo among doves,” writes Jeremy Reynolds in Wednesday’s (3/14) Pittsburgh Post-Gazette. “This weekend, Craig Knox, the PSO’s principal tuba player, will give the world premiere performance of Philadelphia-based composer Jennifer Higdon’s Tuba Concerto. Robert Spano, music director of the Atlanta Symphony Orchestra, will conduct…. ‘The first movement is very fast and exciting; I think listeners may be a little surprised to hear the tuba moving with such agility,’ Mr. Knox said…. The [tuba’s] traditional role in an orchestra is … to balance the higher-pitched, more brilliant sounds of the trumpet, trombones and French horns.… Mr. Knox … attended the Curtis Institute of Music in Philadelphia, where he met composition student Jennifer Higdon…. ‘This concerto is a very complex calculus,’ Ms. Higdon said. ‘It’s important for the orchestra to be thin, to clear the octave where the tuba is playing…. Basically, playing the tuba is like driving a big car.’ ”

Posted March 15, 2018

Pictured: Pittsburgh Symphony Orchestra Principal Tuba Craig Knox will play a new tuba concerto by Jennifer Higdon this weekend. Photo by Jessie Wardarski