In honor of the TMC's 75th anniversary, this year's Festival included premieres of fifteen newly-commissioned works, including Saturday evening's premiere of PARMA Artist Yehudi Wyner's meditative "Sonnet: In the Arms of Sleep," a setting of an early poem by the Massachusetts-born poet Elizabeth Bishop (1911-79) for soprano (Lucy Shelton), two mezzo-soprani, flute, clarinet, harp, violin, viola, and cello. This concert preluded a BSO performance of Mozart and Mahler later that night.
It was hard not to feel a bit humbled by the wealth of talented composers and musicians who came together for this festival; I hesitate to mention a handful of others for fear of leaving out a lot of really great talent, but here are some more of my personal favorite highlights from the festival:
- Thursday night's world premiere of the late Gunther Schuller's "Magical Trumpets" for a wide assortment of horns from piccolo trumpet to bass trumpet, resulting in an even-wider assortment of evolving brass textures
- Marti Epstein's Sibelius-influenced "Quartet" for English horn and strings, with Robert Sheena on English horn (who's performance of "The Swan of Tuonnela" originally helped to inspire the piece)
- Andy Vores's "Fabrication 15: Amplification" inspired by a once overheard piano rag practice session while walking through Harvard
- Saturday afternoon's world premiere of Steven Mackey's "Madrigal" for female voice and percussion quartet featuring text written by Mackey himself
- Augusta Read Thomas's highly-rhythmic "Selene - Moon Chariot Rituals" for combined string quartet and percussion quartet
- Gerald Levinson's "Here of amazing most now," 12 instrumental miniatures, during the last of which, upon the utterance of the word "thunder," the sky responded with some thunder of its own (luckily this was the last piece of the concert)