Past Forward – 3/24 (Sold Out!)


Friday, March 24, 2017 at 7:30 PM
Zankel Hall @ Carnegie Hall

with vocal ensemble: Elizabeth Bates, Martha Cluver, Mellissa Hughes, Rachel Calloway

DAVID HERTZBERG   Chamber Symphony
(World Premiere – ACO/Underwood Commission)

(World Premiere – ACO/Carnegie Hall Commission)

PAOLA PRESTINI   The Hotel That Time Forgot for Video Artist & Orchestra
(World Premiere – ACO/Toulmin Commission)

Led by George Manahan, Past Forward illustrates the role the past plays in the present, from composers’ own personal explorations of their roots, to broader investigations of the universal role of memory and recollection.

The concert celebrates Steve Reich’s 80th birthday with a performance of his Tehillim, presented as part of Reich’s season-long residency as holder of Carnegie Hall’s Richard and Barbara Debs Composer’s Chair; the world premiere of Paola Prestini’s The Hotel that Time Forgot with video by Mami Kosemura; the world premiere of Trevor Weston’s Flying Fish, which honors the composer’s Barbadian heritage; and the world premiere of 2015 Underwood New Music Readings commission winner David Hertzberg’s Chamber Symphony.

Photo from the Tehillim rehearsal at the Metropolitan Museum of Art in 1981 – George Manahan conducting Steve Reich & Musicians | George Manahan conducting Steve Reich & Musicians at the recording session | Courtesy of the Steve Reich Collection, Paul Sacher Foundation – Photos by Deborah Feingold

Listen to this excerpt from Steve Reich’s radio interview about the 1981 New York premiere of Tehillim, which George Manahan conducted:

Read press release here

In the Composers’ Own Words:

Tehillim will probably strike most listeners as quite different from my earlier works. There is no fixed meter or metric pattern in Tehillim as there is in my earlier music. The rhythm of the music here comes directly from the rhythm of the Hebrew text and is consequently in flexible changing meters. The use of extended melodies, imitative counterpoint functional harmony and full orchestration may well suggest renewed interest in Classical or, more accurately, Baroque and earlier Western musical practice. The non-vibrato, non-operatic vocal production will also remind listeners of Western music prior to 1750. However, the overall sound of Tehillim and in particular the intricately interlocking percussion writing which, together with the text, forms the basis of the entire work, marks this music as unique by introducing a basic musical element that one does not find in earlier Western practice including the music of this century. Tehillim may thus be heard as traditional and new at the same time.
Composer Spotlight Q&A

DAVID HERTZBERG  Chamber Symphony
In writing my Chamber Symphony (2017), I sought to create something essential, pared down. In the argument, voices speak to one other across vistas, from different sides of time, finding resonances both sympathetic and volatile. The music breathes with stoic indifference; silence turns space to sound like organ bellows. Though I conceived this work abstractly, the following lines of the American poet Wallace Stevens often came to my mind while composing:

Of Mere Being
The palm at the end of the mind,
Beyond the last thought, rises
In the bronze distance,

A gold-feathered bird
Sings in the palm, without human meaning,
Without human feeling, a foreign song.

You know that it is not the reason
That makes us happy or unhappy.
The bird sings. Its feathers shine.

The palm stands on the edge of space.
The wind moves slowly in the branches.
The bird’s fire-fangled feathers dangle down.
Composer Spotlight Q&A

Images of flying fish have been ubiquitous in my life. As a national symbol and cuisine of Barbados, this animal has always intrigued me. Most of my family comes from Barbados so I do not remember a time before knowing about flying fish. My grandfather’s restaurant and bar in Speightstown, now owned by my cousin, uses the image of flying fish in its logo. When I was a child, I thought that flying fish were magical, mythical creatures moving through water and air at great speeds. Visiting the island of Barbados reminds me how much of my life resonates the culture of Bimshire (Barbados). Every time I visit Barbados, I feel like I am walking with my ancestors and with the vast history of the African presence in the Americas and the Caribbean. On the island, I feel like I am figuratively visiting the sound source of the resonance that I live. Flying Fish honors the African roots of Bajan (Barbadian) culture and African diasporic expression.
Composer Spotlight Q&A

PAOLA PRESTINI   The Hotel That Time Forgot for Video Artist & Orchestra
Across the border from Syria, in a forgotten Lebanese city, sits an unexpected building, The Grand Hotel Palmyra. The hotel hasn’t closed since its opening in 1874, even as war has raged just outside its doors. The owner Rima Husseini says, “No one has a right to touch hotel Palmyra, except for time.” I became fascinated with the hotel when I first came upon a video showing its interior. It became clear that I wanted to create a sonic orchestral world to relive its memories. In her new eponymous video installation, Pendulum, Mami Kosemura sought to create a mysterious and unrealistic atmosphere, while using a real structure as its basis. This structure is the main salon of the Dillon + Lee townhouse, where Kosemura spent the summer. As it relates to The Hotel that Time Forgot, this room is meant to represent a room in The Grand Hotel Palmyra and is filled with every day actions. The pendulum gives the viewer the sense of loss of time, and blurred memories.
Composer Spotlight Q&A

Watch the short documentary on the Hotel Palmyra that inspired Paola to write this piece:

Mami Kosemura, video artist:

The Hotel That Time Forgot was commissioned by American Composers Orchestra with the support of the Virginia B. Toulmin Foundation.

March 24, 2017
7:30 PM
Cost: $43-$51


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Zankel Hall @ Carnegie Hall
57th St & Seventh Ave
New York, NY