On March 30 and 31, 2012, the Minnesota Orchestra performed the world premiere of a brand new orchestral composition. The composition came about as the result of the Orchestra’s first MicroCommission. Approximately 400 people contributed with donations ranging from 1 to 1,500 dollars. I'm proud to have been one of them: the composer chosen for the MicroCommission was Judd Greenstein, whose work I much admire.
As Dylan Mattingly said, when it comes to world premieres, “. . . you have no idea what it’s going to be. Nothing has proved it not the best thing in the world.” Well, the results are in. Sam Bergman, on the Minnesota Orchestra's Inside the Classics blog, described the experience this way:
World premieres are always risky, since you really don’t know what you’re going to get until the performance. I honestly would have been happy with a pretty good half-hour symphony that didn’t make any of our MicroCommission donors want their money back.
Instead, as anyone who was at either performance of Acadia now knows, Judd hit this thing out of the park.
Here's an excerpt from the Star Tribune’s description of Greenstein's Acadia:
"Acadia" derives its name from Acadia National Park in Maine, where Greenstein spent a camping and hiking weekend at a pivotal time in his life. It is not strictly programmatic but creates a wealth of moods, from gently idyllic to intensely emotional, that reflect the complexity of his experience.
The music is thoroughly eclectic. There were passages rooted in minimalism with its pulsing repetitions, overlaid with nature sounds, familiar from many Romantic tone poems. A theme of rising chords was played in concert with long-lined, sensuous melodies. And moments echoed the openheartedness of Aaron Copland.One of my favorite comments comes from Matt Weber, a composer and a reviewer for I Care If You Listen:
Best of all, a recording of the March 31 performance of Greenstein’s Acadia is available for free. For the download, click here and scroll down a bit.
Grateful thanks to the Minnesota Orchestra, which sponsored this commission and recorded a stunning performance of Acadia, conducted by Sarah Hicks. I wish I'd been there to hear it live . . . but we do have the news from Minnesota:
The day of the first performance:
About the concert, from the Minnesota Orchestra's Inside the Classics blog:
The audiences both nights were on their feet seconds after the applause began, and the ovation Judd received when he reached the stage for his bow on Friday was louder than anything I’ve heard at Orchestra Hall in a long, long time.The day after the last performance:
To Judd Greenstein, congratulations and a thousand thanks for the musical gift of Acadia. I join with Matt Weber in saying, “Wow.”
George Wallace writes: "Acadia deserves . . . to become a permanent addition to whatever equivalent we have to a contemporary canon. It is, in the true and original sense, sublime." The complete review can be found here.
Selected Works by Judd Greenstein
Acadia (I: Moving) Composer Judd Greenstein; performed by the Minnesota Orchestra, Conductor Sarah Hicks, March 31, 2012. For a free download of the entire performance, click here and scroll down.
The first movement reproduced here by kind permission of the Minnesota Orchestra.
A young violinist, Emily Hogstad, has alerted me that Judd Greenstein has made Acadia available for listening on his website. Emily has written a wonderful eyewitness view of the performance, which you can find here.
Change (also known, in Suze's house, as "The Long Song") (performed by the NOW Ensemble)
Four on the Floor (performed by the Minnesota Orchestra String Quartet)
Le Tombeau de Ravel (performed by the New Century Trio)
The Night Gatherers (performed by Nadia Sirota, viola, and the Chiara String Quartet)
These are the Sons of Israel, from The Yehudim
What They Don't Like (for Chuck D) (performed by The Newspeak Ensemble)
Credits: The quotation and screen shot of Matt Weber is from Google+ (4/4/12). The other screen shots are from Twitter on the dates noted. The quotations from the Star Tribune and Inside the Classics are as noted in the links provided in the text. Sarah Kirkland Snider is the fine composer of Penelope and other beautiful works. The inimitable George Wallace is a West Coast connoisseur of new music and a Twitter grand master if ever there was. He writes about music here.