Have you ever heard Beethoven’s Symphony No. 5 performed by a full live orchestra? This piece, which has long-been one of the most recognizable compositions in the world, was intended to be consumed in this fashion: with the full array of instruments distributing their sound throughout a concert hall. In person, it is a profound experience—and one recently offered by The Orchestra Now (TŌN) at one of NYC’s most prestigious venues, Carnegie Hall. The Orchestra Now, an assembling of multi-national musicians, warrants attention for two reasons. It’s a graduate training orchestra of 37 young musicians—a part of Bard College’s master’s degree program, founded in the fall of 2015 by conductor and music historian Leon Botstein. Further, this orchestra brings resonance to classical pieces we’ve all heard in some way or another, infused in pop culture, to the stage and lets a new audience (and a new generation) experience it first-hand. They also frequently perform free of charge, providing an entry point for anyone interested, but uncertain or without the budget to splash around on tickets for a performance.
Classical music has struggled to find a place with new audiences, despite a vibrant new music (contemporary classical) scene and even the critical success of Mozart in the Jungle. The Orchestra Now alleviates many barriers. Each concert pairs well-known works with music drawn from the vast underperformed repertoire of classical music. There’s an educational element to it, but excitement and experience stand at the forefront. This isn’t a preservation unit, it’s a blending of the past and the future—and many of the musicians will go on to play for some of the best orchestras around the globe.
The Orchestra Now will be performing works by Stravinsky, Haydn (his “Miracle Symphony”) and David Diamond for free on 28 February. Tickets are available via The Town Hall. They have a series of other upcoming concerts, some of which are also available for free.
Images courtesy of David DeNee