BMOP Begins Season with Premiere by Steven Mackey


The Boston Modern Orchestra Project (BMOP), the nation’s premier orchestra dedicated exclusively to commissioning, performing, and recording new orchestral music, begins its 23rd season with Time Release: a one-night-only concert of orchestral music headlined by the American premiere of Steven Mackey’s Time Release. Led by Artistic Director and Conductor Gil Rose, BMOP also celebrates the Boston premieres of Tonic by Steven Mackey, Concerto No. 2 for Harp and Orchestra by Hannah Lash, and Vision Machine by Harold Meltzer.

Bookending the program are two works by Steven Mackey (b. 1956) a Grammy Award-winner lauded by Gramophonefor his “explosive and ethereal imagination.” Regarded as a leading composer of his generation, his compositions range from orchestral and chamber music to dance and opera. With the concert-opening Tonic(2011)—a 20-minute work for strings, winds, and timpani—Mackey tackles a different approach to harmony by using notes to add subtle nuances and shadings to the foreground harmonies. Tonic is in roughly two equal parts: “the first made entirely from the interplay between instances of the shadow harmonics and the rustic melody; in the second half the sustained tension becomes more of a twitch and the Scotch snap becomes ubiquitous,” explains Mackey.

Closing the concert is Time Release (2005) written for and performed by percussionist Colin Currie. Casting the marimba in a leading role, Time Release takes listeners on an evolutionary journey of the marimba as first an embellishment, to a thematic player, and then to a melody. The Scotsman cites: “Although the work centers primarily on the marimba, an exotic array of other instruments was also at hand to ensure the soloist was running the musical equivalent of a marathon.” Mackey is currently Professor of Music and former chair of the Department of Music at Princeton University, where he has been a member of the faculty since 1985. BMOP’s recording of Mackey’s Dreamhouse (BMOP/sound, 2010) was nominated for four Grammy Awards in 2011: Best Classical Album, Best Orchestral Performance, Best Engineered Album, Classical, and Producer of the Year, Classical, for producer David Frost.

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