Bard College’s new classical music masters program is out on a mission to educate the whole of New York City, along with the 37 students that form its orchestra.
The Orchestra Now, currently in the midst of its inaugural performance season, will give a free concert Friday at the Brooklyn Center for Performing Arts. It’s the fourth of five free concerts and part of its “Around Town” series.
TON is unique not only in its makeup of musicians, grad students from around the country and abroad, but in its approach to engage its audience and re-imagine the traditional ways in which classical music is performed and heard.
“The best way to bring new listeners in is to show them that the orchestra is made of people just like them, who can communicate their own love and enthusiasm for music,” Leon Botstein, famed conductor and president of Bard College, told amNewYork. “They are going out into the community and designing their own programs to introduce and involve people of their own generation and the next.”
Alongside its “Around Town” series — its final concert will take place in Queens next month — the orchestra has put on innovative performances around the city. At TON’s Carnegie Hall debut in January, Botstein gave spirited introductions to each part of the orchestra’s program; detailing its history with a levity that humanized big names like Beethoven and Cherubini and brought them into a 21st century context.
In spring, the orchestra will make its second appearance at the Metropolitan Museum of Art for its interactive “Sight & Sound” series, which pairs music inspired by classic artworks.
At Friday’s performance, the orchestra will open the evening with work by classical composer Aaron Copland.
“Copland was born in Brooklyn, so I felt that TON’s first concert here should honor this great American composer,” said James Bagwell, director of Bard’s music program.
Bagwell, who has conducted for the American Symphony Orchestra, will conduct the concert on Friday.
The orchestra will also play “Symphony No. 3” by another iconic American composer, Charles Ives. Hymns will be sung in this symphony, which won the Pulitzer Prize for music in 1947. Beethoven will cap off the night. “[Beethoven’s] 8th Symphony might be his least familiar symphony, and I wanted to highlight a slightly neglected masterwork,” Bagwell said.