Philadelphia Orchestra premiere of Robin Holcomb score about town destroyed in California’s Camp Fire

Posted on: October 18, 2021

“Could the composer of the Philadelphia Orchestra’s Oct. 15-17 premiere, titled Paradise, be the same artist who was a fixture in the downtown Manhattan new music scene of the 1980s? And the West Coast-based singer-songwriter who matched Joni Mitchell’s soulfulness? And now writing for orchestras and chamber-music groups?,” writes David Patrick Stearns in Tuesday’s (10/12) Philadelphia Inquirer. “Robin Holcomb’s … orchestral works are descriptive tone poems—Paradise refers to a town that was devoured by California forest fires…. The Portland (Maine) Symphony Orchestra [premiered] her piece No Thing Lives to Itself in early 2020…. The piece is a meditation on Rachel Carson (1907-1964), the biologist/author who lived in that maritime community…. Now based in Seattle, Holcomb … has continued with an output that might be described as offbeat Americana, such as a song cycle with film titled The Utopia Project that examines the Pacific Northwest utopian communities of the 1800s. [Recent activities include a commission] from the League of American Orchestras, as part of their Women Composers Readings, funded by the Toulmin Foundation, through which she had a 2018 Philadelphia Orchestra reading of her work All the While. From that came the Philadelphia Orchestra commission of Paradise.”