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Terry Riley (center), one of the founders of minimalism, now often writes music lush with melody, drawing on a variety of American and world music influences. (NPR)

Nashville Symphony Goes Electric, Eclectic

May 12, 2012 (WQXR-FM)

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PROGRAM

  • Ives: Universe Symphony (real. Austin)
  • Riley: The Palmian Chord Ryddle
  • Grainger: The Warriors

In the past decade or so, the Nashville Symphony's international profile has zoomed upwards, first with the late conductor Kenneth Schermerhorn, then with Leonard Slatkin and, since 2008, music director Giancarlo Guerrero. During this period, they've won seven Grammy Awards for a series of albums featuring exciting new repertoire, including Joan Tower's Made in America, Joseph Schwantner's Concerto for Percussion and Michael Daugherty's Metropolis Symphony.

That sense of adventure was rewarded with an invitation to the Spring for Music festival at Carnegie Hall, where the Nashville players will present the New York premiere of Terry Riley's The Palmian Chord Ryddle, a concerto for electric violin and orchestra commissioned by the Nashville Symphony. The soloist is Nashville resident and former Turtle Island String Quartet member Tracy Silverman, for whom Riley wrote this work.

The program also includes the New York premiere of Charles Ives' super-ambitious and unfinished Universe Symphony, for which the composer left only sketches; this version was realized by composer Larry Austin and features no fewer than 20 percussionists. The program is rounded out with Percy Grainger's fantastical and engagingly strange "imaginary ballet" The Warriors, which he began writing in 1913. It's a fitting complement to both the Ives and the Riley. Grainger anticipates Ives by demanding three conductors (here, Kelly Corcoran and Christopher Norton to assist Guerrero) as well as an onstage battery of "tuneful percussion," an offstage brass sextet and at least three pianos.

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