Review: New Jersey Symphony’s season-opening “Hiraeth” and “Planets,” with video projections

Posted on: October 18, 2019

“The New Jersey Symphony began its 97th season Friday night at NJPAC with a gala concert that managed to be both substantive and easily digestible,” writes James C. Taylor in Monday’s (10/14) Star Ledger (Newark, N.J.). “Prudential Hall was outfitted with a giant video screen [for music] accompanied by video projections…. Princeton-based composer Sarah Kirkland Snider’s [2015 composition] ‘Hiraeth.’ … was bright and propulsive this night, evoking Twentieth Century American art music like Samuel Barber and Charles Ives without sounding formal or labored…. NJSO Artistic Director Xian Zhang’s conducting and the NJSO’s playing suggest that Snider’s piece is ready to be heard on its own. After intermission … was … Holst’s ‘The Planets,’ complete with high-definition NASA films of … the Red Planet’s canyons, the rings of Saturn and Jupiter’s massive red dot.… Seen on a big screen with a full orchestra wailing away beneath them is indeed a rush. But the real magic was in Zhang’s conducting…. Zhang elicited a performance that let you hear the music as if it was new. She did this with taut tempi, careful balances and some lovely playing by first cellist Jonathan Spitz.”

Posted October 18, 2019