The piece, commissioned by the NSO and the ASCAP Foundation, is named for The Throne of the Third Heaven of the Nations Millennium General Assembly, a massive piece of religious sculpture by outsider artist James Hampton. It was discovered in a Washington garage after Hampton died in 1964.
Hampton's work, made up of 177 separate pieces, was assembled over 14 years from discarded furniture, aluminum and gold foil, light bulbs, plastic, and cardboard. Surrounding the central throne are an altar table, pulpit, and other religious articles as well as abstract objects representing figures from the Old and New Testaments.
Friedman intends his 20-minute piece to reflect both Hampton's content and his method. "The narrative of the piece follows the same process that Hampton used in creating The Throne," he writes in a program note. "Find an object (or, in this case, create a musical object), wrap it (take the raw musical material and gradually add layers of surface), and then place it in relation to other objects."
The 30-year-old Friedman studied at Columbia, the Aspen Music Festival and School, and the Juilliard School. Throne, the second of his works to be commissioned by the NSO, is part of a trilogy based on works of outsider art. He has also composed pieces for the Chiara Quartet and the chamber group Eighth Blackbird.
The NSO's program, which is repeated on October 29 and 30, also includes Beethoven's Symphony No. 7 and Gershwin's Piano Concerto in F, with soloist Jean-Yves Thibaudet. Music director Leonard Slatkin conducts.