…I’ve been a terrible blogger, it’s been months, etc. A much busier guest conducting schedule is mostly to blame (although I’m not complaining; it’s great to be in demand!), but I won’t bore you with excuses.
What I will say is that this has been a big week for us with the world premier of Judd Greenstein’s Acadia which I’d been feverishly working on during early morning flights, the odd day off and every other minute in between. It’s the culmination of our big Microcommission project, and seeing the fruition of something you’ve petitioned for and spearheaded is always a bit stressful! On top of that, approaching a score that is both new to me and to everyone involved (orchestra, audience) has it’s particular challenges, as I have to be aware not only of my own requirements but also the needs of the people who will be playing it and hearing it for the first time.
What’s helped the process enormously is the piece itself, and the clarity with which Judd has written it. I’ve worked a great deal with young composers, and one of my pet peeves is being presented with a score that needs a ton of explanation from the composer. For me a score needs to speak for itself, to contain both the detailed technical information that is crucial for conductor and player, and the larger musical ideas that structure and unify a piece of music. As it was, Judd and I spoke a couple times about the genesis of the piece and the important motives, had a technical discussion between rehearsals about some articulations in the strings and issues in the percussion, and addressed balances during rehearsal.
For me, Acadia didn’t need an endless series of conductor-composer meetings; I understood what he wanted just from looking at the page. And that’s a pretty powerful statement about the immediacy and power of Judd’s music. That clarity and directness carried over to the performance itself; check out our first (glowing!) review here. Congrats, Judd, and my thanks to my colleagues in the MN Orchestra who brought this work to life last night, to all of you out there who supported our Microcommission Project and made this all possible, and to Sam, script-writer extraordinaire and partner-in-crime; we did it!!