Newspaper article The Florida Times Union

Classical Music Doesn't Have to Be Old to Be Great

Newspaper article The Florida Times Union

Classical Music Doesn't Have to Be Old to Be Great

Article excerpt

Byline: Courtney Lewis

The first few weeks of the new season at the Jacksonville Symphony have been very exciting. We welcomed a group of nine new musicians - an unusually large number all at once. Including exactly half the wind section, it's been fascinating to hear the sound of the orchestra change with the addition of new voices. My job is to work with the musicians by describing what I hear in rehearsals so that we can arrive at a sound that works for our size of ensemble in our wonderful concert hall. It might seem like a very abstract task, but it's one we are all enjoying enormously.

During the next few weeks we welcome back former music director Fabio Mechetti for Faur's sublime "Requiem," and you can hear the orchestra playing at the Art Walk downtown, in Fernandina Beach and at the SeaWalk Pavillion in Jacksonville Beach.

I'm leaving town to work in New York City for a few weeks. I will be preparing the Juilliard Orchestra for a concert conducted by Thomas Ads, featuring his "Three Pieces from Couperin" that you might remember we played a few seasons ago. Ads will also be conducting the American premiere of his unsettling and masterful opera, "The Exterminating Angel," at the Metropolitan Opera.

"The Exterminating Angel" is based on the 1962 film by surrealist Mexican director Luis Bu[+ or -]uel. A group of aristocrats are eating dinner at a grand house, having been to the opera. When it comes time to go home, they discover that for no apparent reason they are unable to leave the dining room. Weeks pass and the situation grows from absurd to appalling: the men drill into a water pipe, a couple crawl into a closet to kill themselves, a nobleman has a nervous breakdown, all while no one talks about why they can't leave the room. It's a fascinating study of inertia, clothed in music that turns the screws tighter as the opera progresses, creating an even closer sense of claustrophobia and panic. …

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