field report no.041418

LOCATION: Thomas Wolfe Auditorium AVL.NC
SUBJECT: Asheville Symphony Orchestra, Jayce Ogren conducting

OBSERVATIONS:
In April, we returned to hear our local symphony orchestra with the promise of some slightly more modern fare. This time around, in our orchestra's version of American Idol—wherein each contestant for the conductor / musical director slot had a public performance over the course of the season—we saw it helmed by the very young-looking, but no less accomplished, Jayce Ogren. The theme of his program was patriotism—but not of the bombastic De Sousa variety.

The first piece was John Adams' The Chairman Dances. It was a lovely piece, even if it belied its theatrical origins. It was written—but not included—to be in the opera Nixon in China. It often featured the shifting patterns of audio moiré that define much of late-20th century minimalism but would change gears, jarringly at times (probably to match action in some scene). The second piece was also from the last century, Falla's Nights in the Gardens of Spain. At heart, it's a piano conerto, and Joyce Yang impressed as the virtuosic lead. Despite her melodramatic flair, my attention drifted. I just didn't find the work captivating, musically. The evening closed with Sibelius' Symphony no.2. I didn't know the work well, but it seemed well executed: crisp and well defined across the spectrum. 

While the patriotic theme did not veer to the martial or nationalistic, each piece had a lively pulse. Ogren focused on the way traditional and folk musics of a place can bleed into its orchestral work, helping the composer target and express specific emotional cues with their home audience.

NOTES: John Adams, the Chairman Dances;  Manuel de Falla, Nights in the Gardens of Spain (Joyce Yang, piano); Jean Sibelius, Symphony No. 2
PRESENT: AMS; Angela F.