Thursday at 8:00 pm
The torso rising from the pit – sounds like several opera characters, right? Though it could just as easily be the conductor. From a podium tucked below the stage, the opera maestro must drive the orchestra as well as the chorus and singers while those performers contort themselves into every position not conducive to singing (combat, dying, crouching, kissing etc.). For all of the skill required of the opera conductor – some combination of musician, expert at non-verbal communication, and traffic cop – the other boss, the opera director, keeps the audience glued to the action on the stage; to the telling of the story. We’re not supposed to be so aware of the conductor as he or she produces a cohesive musical statement – quite the opposite experience of the symphony orchestra.
The symphony concert places the conductor front and center. There are no sets, no costumes, no narratives; just pure music-making.
While Chicagoans have grown accustomed to Sir Andrew Davis, and that fair-haired head-toss poking out from the orchestra pit, we’ve rarely heard him conduct a symphony orchestra. Thursday’s broadcast of The New York Philharmonic This Week will be just that. The concert features Sir Andrew Davis conducting works by Prokofiev and Franck, with soloist Marc-André Hamelin, along with the U.S. premiere of a piece by Julian Anderson (view program notes).