Ryan Olivier: Melos News, and Murail at PMA!

For those of you who are unaware, we are pleased to announce that the Third Annual Melos New Music Festival will be in Philadelphia this year! I am very excited to introduce my fellow Melos composers and their music to my vibrant city. As many of you know, this city is not new to the sound of Melos composers with myself, David Carpenter, and Daniel Temkin all living in the area. The city is well known for its support of public art, but perhaps not as well know for its support of new music. Below is a short description of a wonderful event I attended last week. I can’t wait to until our December event with ensemble39.

Last weekend I heard the premiere of Tristan Murail’s commissioned work “Bronze Age” premiered by the Argento New Music Project. This was significant for many reasons. For one, it was a world premiere commissioned by the Philadelphia Museum of Art and the Philadelphia Music Project (PMP) by one of the most respected composers in the world. But more significantly it was an incredibly well crafted concert. The museum not only boldly chose a “difficult” composer to commission they also allowed Argento to do a concert of only his music. There was no filler, no time honored composer that everyone knew, it was just Murail. As such, those of us who were there, were able to get a nice overview of this composer’s work through the years in much the same way a museum or gallery exhibit would explore an artist’s stylistic development through carefully selected works. What’s more, they paired Rodin’s work with a French composer who writes in a style developed by French composers. The curators of this event were also careful to create a beautiful atmosphere in which to enjoy his work. The audience sat in the recently renovated garden which was transformed into a fabulous “concert hall” through the use of a masterful mix of amplified instruments played through a surround sound setup. It was also catered with complimentary bottles of water to beat the mild heat.

I was seriously concerned that this event did not receive the press it deserved. Perhaps our beloved critics are covering more important events in Europe with premieres by major European composers (I hope they are just enjoying some time off instead). If they did journey a far distance to hear a premiere by a well established European composer played by a world-class ensemble, the joke is on them as this premiere happened in our own backyard (and what a beautiful yard it is!). Thank you Mary Sydnor of the Daily News. I do not know you, but thank you for covering the second installment of this event, which happens tonight!

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