Led by Maestro Richard Pittman, the New England Philharmonic (NEP) has a stellar reputation for bringing magnificent works and uncovering promising masterpieces in each of their meticulously crafted concerts. Music Director Richard Pittman is celebrating his 20th anniversary with the orchestra as New England Philharmonic presents its 40th anniversary concert featuring Michael Tippett’s stirring and thought-provoking A Child of Our Time with Chorus pro Musica under the direction of Jamie Kirsch. This exciting concert will be held at Tsai Performance Center at Boston University on Saturday, March 4 at 8 p.m. A number soloists and musicians are slated to perform at this special celebratory concert. Click here for more information and for tickets.
New England Philharmonic President Ann Teixeira offers an inside look at how each season’s works are selected, their annual Call for Scores competition, and how to celebrate two anniversaries in one extraordinary night.
Jeanne Denizard: How did this 40th anniversary season come together and how were the works selected? I understand part of the process is NEP holds an annual Call for Scores competition. Was there a specific theme involved this year?
Ann Teixeira: Music Director Richard Pittman is responsible for the music selection each season. Once the orchestra and Board know what he has chosen for the next season, the season’s theme is identified and each concert is given a title based on the relationship among the pieces. When he selects a program’s theme in advance, it is almost always selected for the family concert. This year’s family concert was called, The Big Bad Wolf.
JD: On March 4, the NEP will hold an anniversary concert celebrating two anniversaries at Tsai Performance Center at 8 p.m. A number of musicians and soloists will be returning for this big night. What inspired highlighting these two significant anniversaries in one evening?
AT: The orchestra is primarily celebrating NEP’s 40th anniversary, but this is also the first of Richard Pittman’s 20th year as Music Director. We are fortunate to have a number of musicians who are long time members of the orchestra on stage for the 40th anniversary concert, including violinist Louise Myers, who joined it as early as its third concert in 1977, and 30-year NEP cellist Jennifer Snodgrass among others.
As the NEP did for its 30th and 35th Anniversary concerts, we will once again perform a vocal work that includes a chorus and vocal soloists. For the 30th anniversary, it was Alban Berg’s opera Wozzeck and for the 35th anniversary, Benjamin Britten’s War Requiem.
The 40th Anniversary concert features Michael Tippett’s A Child of Our Time with Chorus pro Musica and soloists soprano Sarah Pelletier, mezzo-soprano Krista River, tenor Charles Blandy, and bass Sumner Thompson. The NEP celebrates another anniversary as this same piece, also with Chorus pro Musica, was performed 25 years ago this season under Ron Feldman’s music direction.
JD: This year also marks NEP’s 20th anniversary under the direction of award-winning Music Director and Maestro Richard Pittman. Not only has he led the orchestra to a number of honors, but he has conducted orchestras all over the world and founded a distinguished ensemble, Boston Musica Viva. Please tell me about how his presence enriched the NEP over the years.
AT: Dick is a widely recognized and often honored conductor both in the U.S. and Europe. He founded the Boston Musica Viva, an ensemble widely regarded as one of the best contemporary music ensembles in the world, 47 years ago. He has enriched the NEP with his broad and deep knowledge of contemporary classical music and the high standards he applies to his repertoire selection. He selects only the ‘best’ of contemporary classical music which not only utilizes as many instruments and musicians within each piece, but accommodate our part-time musicians. Program selection is a balancing act! The programming and training he provides leads to the orchestra’s musical growth and retention of them as well as higher quality performances often recognized by reviewers as equivalent to professional orchestras.
Composers are happy and honored to have the NEP select their compositions for performance due to Dick’s relationship with them. The composers often attend the performance and speak to the audience about their composition and sometimes the process of composing it, enriching the concert experience. Composers also sometimes attend a rehearsal, which further enriches the musicians’ experience and training.
JD: This season features fanfares from former composers-in-residence. This particular concert features Melospiza melodia from two-term composer-in-residence, Richard Cornell, who wrote this specifically for the anniversary.
AT: Yes, Richard Cornell used song of the sparrow as his inspiration for this piece.
JD: NEP features Michael Tippett’s A Child of Our Time, which is inspired by what happened in Nazi Germany in the 1930s and is a significant work against oppression in the world. Why this particular work? I understand that it resonates especially with today’s world.
AT: When Maestro Pittman selected A Child of Our Time a year ago, he had no prescience for how relevant its statements would be to the current political environment. While it is explicitly a statement against oppression, it also progresses into a statement about tolerance, thus making it currently relevant on both dimensions. It is serendipity, it is so relevant, and we hope it will leave its impact on the audience.
New England Philharmonic presents the 40th Anniversary Concert: A Child of Our Time at the Tsai Performance Center at Boston University on Saturday, March 4 at 8 p.m. Click here for tickets, how to become a subscriber, and more information.