This weekend’s Oregon Symphony concerts are going to be special – local snarky publication notwithstanding. First of all, there will be a world premiere of a new piece by Gabriella Smith, entitled Biolumnescence Chaconne. It’s fantastic. The orchestra likes it very much, and our audience in Salem Friday night loved it as well. There’s also an wonderful piece by Missy Mazzoli on the program, Sinfonia (for Orbiting Spheres), written just a few years back. In addition, one of my favorite violinists on the planet, Augustin Hadelich is back with the outrageous Paganini Violin Concerto No. 1. It’s a silly piece, but Hadelich’s approach is anything but. Virtuosic AF, as the kids say these days. If he plays the encore he did Friday in Salem, it will be magic. Incidentally, our Salem audience gave a standing ovation after the first movement of the Paganini. Not something I’m inclined to endorse, but it showed how effective his playing was! Finally, Mussorgsky’s Pictures at an Exhibition, arr. Ravel. Not much to say about this one – you know what to expect here.
A few weeks ago I had this (most likely very unoriginal) thought: in programming/coding, the axiom goes “garbage in, garbage out”. In the orchestra world, it sometimes can follow that rule, but most of the time, at any level of professionalism, the opposite is expected: “garbage in, beautiful out”. This applies both to the raw materials (the score and the venue), and the conductor. If supplied with lemons, we’re told, don’t simply make lemonade, make a lemon drop. Not a rant – this is the reality for every single professional musician from the smallest semi-pro orchestra to the Chicago Symphony or the Berlin Philharmonic – but it does explain the low average level of job satisfaction in symphony orchestras.
Joy Fabos, principal librarian of the Oregon Symphony, is the subject of the February artslandia profile. Joy is one of those people whose name pretty much sums them up. She’s a joy to have in our workplace, and she’s one of the best in the business. It’s so nice to see her get this much-deserved recognition!