Review: The Orchestra Now at Carnegie Hall, performing American composers past and present

Posted on: November 24, 2021

“Leon Botstein, an indispensable advocate of the unfairly ignored … brought his ensemble The Orchestra Now to Carnegie Hall on Thursday for an evening of works that … felt as fresh as a batch of premieres,” writes Joshua Barone in Friday’s (11/19) New York Times. “Botstein and The Orchestra Now, a capable and game group of young musicians, [performed] Julia Perry’s ‘Stabat Mater,’ written in 1951; … Scott Wheeler’s new violin concerto, ‘Birds of America,’ featuring Gil Shaham; and George Frederick Bristow’s Fourth Symphony, ‘Arcadian,’ from 1872.” Perry’s score, performed with mezzo-soprano Briana Hunter, “strikes a balance of dissonance and tonality…. Wheeler’s likable concerto … has elements of timelessness— its lyricism akin to that of Barber and Korngold’s famous violin concertos…. Shaham … was … grippingly virtuosic in tricky, Sarasate-like passages of lyrical double-stops and left-hand pizzicato…. [When] Bristow’s burly symphony … premiered … it enjoyed the rare success of repeated programming…. Played at Carnegie in a new edition by Kyle Gann, [it] charts an imagined journey westward…. As a document of history, it is an embodiment, ripe for interrogation, of Manifest Destiny’s sins. But as music, Bristow’s score holds its own.”