Review: Seattle Symphony assistant conductor steps in to conduct world premiere of Lash double harp concerto

Posted on: November 22, 2021

Harpists Valerie Muzzolini and Hannah Lash, conductor Lee Mills, and the Seattle Symphony perform the world premiere of Lash’s The Peril of Dreams. Photo: James Holt/Seattle Symphony

“There’s never a good time for a busy orchestra conductor to fall ill. But for Seattle Symphony Music Director Thomas Dausgaard … the indisposition … is particularly unfortunate,” writes Melinda Bargreen in Friday’s (11/19) Seattle Times. “Not only had Dausgaard just fought his way past visa restrictions to Seattle (from his native Denmark) for last week’s concerts; this week’s Thursday/Saturday program … featuring two major works by women composers, is not in every conductor’s repertoire. The program’s centerpiece is the world premiere of [Hannah Lash’s] double harp concerto, commissioned by the Seattle Symphony.… Fortunately, the orchestra’s associate conductor, Lee Mills, was at hand as Dausgaard’s substitute, and he proved the hero of the hour. Just keeping the full orchestra and the two harp soloists together in the world premiere of the complicated 35-minute, four-movement ‘The Peril of Dreams’ was quite a feat…. The new concerto is a work of considerable beauty, with delicate, feathery glissandi in the two harps, a bewitching double cadenza, and intricate rhythmic patterns. Mills supported the brilliant solo harpists (the composer, and the orchestra’s own Valerie Muzzolini) and let them shine. [Amy Beach’s] ‘Gaelic’ Symphony … got a rousing, high-energy performance from Mills and the orchestra.”