Classical infusion erases the stigma of modern composition

The Past & Future concert will combine classical compositions with original modern shorts.

By Alexis Hitt | April 8, 2011

Tags: Concerts Music


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Attendees of 9th Street Philharmonic Orchestra's Past & Future concert Saturday will witness a combination of well-known classical pieces with new modern shorts.

The concert’s objective is to combine the old with the new in hopes of attracting a large audience that will witness a showcase of unfamiliar, diverse and exciting music. During the concert, 9spo aspires to provide entertainment that will remove the stigma that often accompanies contemporary composition.

“I always think that combining contrasting music in a concert is a good idea,” 9spo Artistic Director Alex Innecco said. “I think it enhances audience interest and makes them understand a little better the repertoire. It also makes them understand some of the challenges associated with composing new orchestral music.”

Trumpet player Alexander Blanton said that 9spo usually provides something for everyone and that the Past & Future concert isn’t an exception.

9spo includes musicians of a variety of ages and skill levels, from high school students to MU music professors.

“It’s a joy to work with such a colorful orchestra and with such a great group of composers,” Innecco said. “I think that everyone and the community benefits greatly from this mixed environment.”

Those who will be participating in Saturday’s show will be playing classical pieces, such as Beethoven’s “Symphony No. 8” and Prokofiev’s “Symphony No. 1,” along with new modern shorts “Study in Red,” “Loveliest of Trees,” “Boogie Plum” and “A 9th Street Overture,” all composed by 9spo’s members.

“The opportunity to work with composers who are right there with you is really a treat,” Innecco said. “Once you compose something or write a text then it belongs to art. You have to be able to accept other people’s input into your work, otherwise you’ll never see it performed.”

“Study in Red” composer Stephanie Berg, also 9spo’s principal clarinet player, describes her piece as her own interpretation of the tango that’s new and fresh but still audience friendly.

“I hope people will be excited about the new music,” Berg said. “When I hear my piece, I hear something vigorous and sexy, and I hope that comes across.”

Blanton admits that his tune “Loveliest of Trees” is considerably different than most of his other works. Blanton said that after much thought, he decided to write something that was accessible and melodic.

Familiar to most, Tchaikovsky’s “Dance of the Sugar Plum Fairy” provided a point of reference for Patrick Clark’s modern “Boogie Plum.”

“I treat it with a sense of humor in displacing its expected rhythmic accents into unusual places,” Clark said. “This approach already engages the unfamiliar and in the ideal hearing, lends a new understanding to the charm of the familiar dance. My intent is to amplify the genius of Tchaikovsky’s relatively simple idea, not to mock it in any way.”

Rather than perform in the Past & Future concert, Anthony Hernandez is going to listen to his piece, “A 9th Street Overture” as an audience member. The name of Hernandez’s piece stems from his college experiences around 9th street.

“Each of the contemporary composers on the program has a very different style of writing, so expect variety,” Blanton said. “There will be something you'll like that you've never heard before.”

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