Review: Chicago Symphony’s first MusicNOW program curated by composer in residence Jessie Montgomery

Posted on: November 3, 2021

“On Monday night, … Jessie Montgomery … reaffirmed exactly why she was tapped as the orchestra’s composer-in-residence” at the Chicago Symphony Orchestra, writes Hannah Edgar in Tuesday’s (11/2) Chicago Tribune. “Montgomery’s ‘Loisaida, My Love’ is a full-throated, bilingual ode to [New York City’s] Lower East Side for singer-cello duo. The superb soprano Whitney Morrison … and CSO cellist Katinka Kleijn … gave an eloquent performance…. Morrison returned for a hair-raising performance of Montgomery’s ‘Lunar Songs,’ written for Leonard Bernstein’s centenary year. Poet J. Mae Barizo’s … fantastical text and Montgomery’s delirious orchestration … calls to mind early-20th century whoppers like Schoenberg’s String Quartet No. 2 or Ravel’s opera ‘L’Enfant et les sortilèges.’ The voice, however, is all Montgomery’s own.… Monday’s other grand occasion was the first commission of the MusicNOW season, of Elijah Daniel Smith’s ‘Scions of an Atlas,’ [whose] mic-drop moment comes … in the middle slow movement, which suddenly suspends the ‘Go Nuts’ section as though in slow motion. Brass plug in their mutes and lugubrious quarter tones reign in a bluesy, and much welcome, moment of respite.” Also on the program were Nathalie Joachim’s 2021 wind quintet Seen and Ted Hearne’s 2019 “massive, massively terrifying”  Authority.