A Chat With Conductor Anne Manson; American Composers Orchestra Debut Jan. 29-30

Classic Arts Features   A Chat With Conductor Anne Manson; American Composers Orchestra Debut Jan. 29-30
Conductor Anne Manson makes her American Composers Orchestra concert debut when she leads the ACO in "Orchestra Underground: Conversations" Jan. 29 at Carnegie Hall. The program, featuring two world premieres, will be repeated Jan. 30 in Philadelphia.


Manson and the Orchestra premiere Sebastian Currier's Next Atlantis for orchestra, electronics and video and Time Lapse by ACO/Underwood Commission winner Roger Zare. The program also includes Paquito D'Rivera's Conversations with Cachao which was written for bassist Israel L‹pez.

Ms. Manson chats here about the performance:

1. In your upcoming performance with the American Symphony Orchestra, "Orchestra Underground: Conversations" you will lead two world premieres: Sebastian Currier's Next Atlantis and Roger Zare's Time Lapse. What extra preparation goes into conducting a world premiere?

The preparation is similar with any new score, but I feel a certain responsibility in presenting a work to the public for the first time. Fortunately, the composer is often present during the rehearsal period for a first performance, and can clarify his or her intentions to the orchestra and myself.

2. Is this your first time working with these two composers?

No. I conducted a reading of another orchestral work of Roger Zare two years ago, and it is as a result of that reading that Roger received this commission from the American Symphony Orchestra. He is a very skillful and sophisticated orchestrator, and this new work of his has a rhythmical, pulse-driven feel to it that I find quite fascinating.

3. Early in your career, as Music Director of the Mecklenburgh Opera in London, you commissioned many world premieres from a host of young contemporary composers. Since then you have continued to serve as a guide to young composers across the world, like Roger Zare in this instance, and well as young singers of the Juilliard Opera Center. What are your thoughts on this role you've developed as an artistic mentor to so many young talents? Did you have a mentor early in your career?

I was fortunate and had several important mentors early in my career: Claudio Abbado, Norman Del Mar, and John Ferris. I have always had a fascination with contemporary music. One of the great joys is to come across an exciting new composer whose works I don't yet know (they are not always young!) and help present his or her artistry to the world. Likewise, I love working at Juilliard because I encounter gifted young musicians whose work is new to me.

4. When did you realize you wanted to be a conductor?

After my first year of study at the Royal College of Music in London, I conducted a production of Mozart's opera Cosi fan tutte. That experience decided me!

5. Of your 2007 opera appearance leading the New York City Opera in Samuel Barber's Vanessa the New York Times said, "Ms. Manson has broken into the New York opera scene, and it's about time." Had you always wanted to perform in New York? Are there any cities or venues that are on your wish list for the future?

I have enjoyed performing in New York since I conducted an all-Ives program at Juilliard some five years ago. I went to the box office a week before the performance to buy tickets for the concert and was informed it was already sold out. I thought: this is my audience! My wish list for future engagements would have to include returning to the Ensemble Intercontemporain in Paris and to the Salzburg festival.

6. Along with leading major opera companies throughout the globe, you have also conducted major orchestras like the London Philharmonic and the Los Angeles Philharmonic. What is one of the most memorable symphonic programs you've conducted?

I remember every performance of a Brahms symphony I have ever done, and there have been many! I find them deeply expressive and fulfilling to conduct.

7. Any specific classical music recording that you couldn't live without?

Yo Yo Ma playing the Bach suites.

8. If you were not a conductor, what profession would you see yourself in?

I can't imagine myself in any other profession. The more repertoire I conduct _ and the more experiences rehearsing and performing I have _ the harder it is to imagine life without making music.


Each work in "Orchestra Underground: Conversations" has a distinct voice. Inspired by New Orleans, Sebastian Currier's Next Atlantis _ accompanied by a multimedia presentation by artist Pawel Wojtasik _ weaves together sounds of water, elegiac strains for strings, murmurings of Dixieland, and visual depictions of an imagined future when the city is but a collective memory, having been fully submerged by the rising sea. According to Roger Zare, Time Lapse "explores sudden and gradual changes of time and momentum, and ideas are developed temporally as often as they are developed motivically."

Paquito D'Rivera's Conversations with Cachao (2007) pays homage to the Cuban mambo star and bassist Israel "Cachao" L‹pez, and is built on elements of Cuban traditional music. Commissioned by the Caramoor Center for Music and the Arts, this work was conceived as a double concerto for contrabass, clarinet/alto sax & orchestra, it comprises three movements: Israel (Cachao's first name), Guajira (a Cuban folk form) and The Return (a fantasy on the mind of every exiled Cuban). ACO's performance will feature the composer on alto saxophone and clarinet, and Robert Black on double bass.

Friday, January 29, 2010 at 7:30pm‹Zankel Hall at Carnegie Hall
Saturday, January 30, 2010 at 7:30pm‹Annenberg Center for the Performing Arts

Anne Manson, conductor
Paquito D'Rivera, clarinet & saxophone
Robert Black, double bass
Pawel Wojtasik, video

ROGER ZARE Time Lapse (World Premiere, ACO/Underwood Commission)
SEBASTIAN CURRIER Next Atlantis for orchestra, electronics, and video (World Premiere/ACO Commission)
PAQUITO D'RIVERA Conversations with Cachao (NYC Premiere)

Carnegie Hall: $38 - $48. For information, or to purchase tickets, call CarnegieCharge at 212-247-7800. Tickets are also available at the Carnegie Hall Box Office, or online at www.carnegiehall.org.

Annenberg Center: All seats for $25. For information, or to purchase tickets, call 215-898-3900. Tickets are also available at the Annenberg Center Box Office, or online at www.AnnenbergCenter.org.

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