As was announced last spring, the Featured Composer for the 2013–2014 season of the New Century Chamber Orchestra (NCCO), under Music Director Nadja Salerno-Sonnenberg, is Michael Daugherty. Salerno-Sonnenberg established the program during her first season with NCCO to expand the ensemble’s repertoire with commissioned works. The program also allows the audience to get to know the selected composer better through the performance of one or more earlier works.
Thus, the first concert of the current season was entitled Daugherty Perspectives and introduced the composer with six short works reflecting not only a diversity of those “perspectives” but also a variety of approaches to instrumentation. This month’s NCCO program will then feature the world premiere of “Fallingwater,” a concerto for solo violin (to be performed by Salerno-Sonnenberg) and strings. The title is that of architect Frank Lloyd Wright’s most famous design for a private residence, built for the department store magnate, Edgar J. Kaufmann. It is also the title of the concerto’s second movement, the other three of which are similarly named for Wright accomplishments, “Taliesin,” Wright’s own home and design studio, “Unity Temple,” and “Guggenheim Museum.”
The program will also revisit the very first work commissioned by a Featured Composer. The composer was Clarice Assad; and the composition was “Dreamscapes,” first performed in May of 2009, again with Salerno-Sonnenberg as soloist with the NCCO strings. The program notes that Assad prepared for that concert demonstrated a deep understanding of both the logic and the illogic behind the phenomenology of dreams. As a result, I concluded that there was more to Assad’s music “than can be grasped in a single listening.” Thus, I think it is important that another opportunity has presented itself, which will be followed (in May of next year) with further opportunities from the release of the next NCCO recording in May of 2014, which will feature four of the Featured Composer commissioned works, those of Assad and Daughtery, as well as those of William Bolcom and Ellen Taaffe Zwilich. (Given the presence of both Assad and Zwilich, the title of the new album will be A to Z: 21st Century Concertos.)
Because this month marks the 50th anniversary of the assassination of President John F. Kennedy, the program will also include “Elegy.” This was composed by Samuel Jones, founder of the music school at Rice University, in the wake of that assassination. That elegiac rhetoric will be established by the first two pieces on the program. The concert will begin with the string ensemble version of the Andante cantabile movement from Pyotr Ilyich Tchaikovsky’s first string quartet (Opus 11 in D major). This will be followed by Anton Arensky’s tribute to Tchaikovsky, written the year after that composer’s death. It is a set of variations on the song “Legend: Christ in His Garden,” which Tchaikovsky included in his Opus 54 collection of sixteen children’s songs.
The San Francisco performance of this concert will take place at 8 p.m. on Saturday, November 23, in the Lam Research Theater at the Yerba Buena Center for the Arts. Single tickets range in price from $29 to $59 and are now on sale through the City Box Office Web site, with an event page in place for this concert, or at 415-392-4400. Discounted single tickets will be available at $15 for patrons under 35. Further information is available by calling 415-392-4400.
In addition there will be an open rehearsal of this program that will be held at 10 a.m. on Tuesday, November 19. The venue is the Kanbar Performing Arts Center, located at 44 Page Street. All tickets for this event are $8; and they, too, may be purchased from their own City Box Office event page.