Monday, September 28, 2009

Composer Magnus Lindberg

Magnus Lindberg, Composer-in-Residence New York Philharmonic
September 30, October 1, 3, 2009
Avery Fisher Hall

Finnish composer Magnus Lindberg has been at the forefront of musical modernism for nearly three decades, so it says something about the direction that incoming New York Philharmonic music director Alan Gilbert is going in by choosing Lindberg as the orchestra’s first Composer-in-Residence since the early 1990s.

Lindberg’s often ferocious sound world is best heard in such works as Arena (which the Philharmonic will play in June 2010) and EXPO (which the orchestra premiered at its Opening Night concert a couple weeks ago). As Composer-in-Residence through the 2010-11 season, Lindberg will also write a new work to be premiered at this season’s final concerts in late June 2010 and curate and conduct the new-music series CONTACT. In addition, the U.S. premiere of his Clarinet Concerto, led by Gilbert and featuring soloist Kari Kriikku (for whom the work was written) at Carnegie Hall on February 13, 2010.

Lindberg recently discussed the many roles he will be tackling with the Philharmonic.

Kevin Filipski: You were chosen to be the New York Philharmonic’s composer-in-residence for this season and next. Have you had similar experiences elsewhere?
Magnus Lindberg: Actually, I have done this in other places: most recently last year with the Porto Orchestra in Portugal. I’ve also done it a long time ago—at least 10 years, I think—the Antwerp Orchestra in Belgium. So I do have some European references similar to, but not quite like, this arrangement I have with the Philharmonic.

KF: What can you tell us about your experiences working with the orchestra’s new music director, Alan Gilbert?
ML: I have been very lucky to have worked with Alan in Stockholm and in Hamburg, so I got to know him as a fantastic musician, a great conductor who has a deep understanding of the music he’s performing. So I must say that I was happy and astonished to be approached by the team here for this appointment.

KF: One of your duties while here is writing new music. You already premiered your latest work, EXPO, on Opening Night (it will be repeated during the September 30, October 1 and 3 concerts). Can you tell us about this work?
ML: The title already says something: it’s an exposition of something, of a new era that’s starting here. The piece shows some of the typical qualities of what I try to do in my music. I present very fast and very slow music, starting with a huge contrast, then dichotomy and suspense between the two opposite elements, which blend together and show up in very different fashions throughout. It’s also a tour de force, a very demanding piece in terms of the orchestra playing many different tempos. I have the luxury of ample rehearsal time, so the musicians know what it’s about. As always with new pieces, you need to adjust—it’s one thing to write it down on paper and another to hear it performed. I managed to get the adjustments into the score, so I feel pretty relieved—and it’s an amazing group of musicians we have here.

KF: You will also write a new work for the season’s final program in June. What can you tell me about that?
ML: That is my main task now all this winter. I am already well into the planning of the work. It will be a large-scale piece that’s definitely a continuation of some of my other orchestral scores. This one belongs with the works I’ve done over the last 10 years. It’s dangerous to say anything more concrete because it might take a different direction. I’m looking at it being more chamber-like, instead of being loud and noisy. (laughs) I will try my best at getting in some slow and soft music. But one never knows. I always try to write slow movements, but out comes fast and temperamental music instead!

KF: Another one of your duties curating the Philharmonic’s new-music series, CONTACT, including conducting one of the performances.
ML: This series is wonderful. We will have an orchestra made up of musicians from NY Philharmonic doing music of our time. I will be conducting a concert in December, and Alan will conduct one in the spring. We have seven commissioned pieces for these concerts: we’ve chosen five American composers and two Europeans, and they will all have the opportunity to write pieces for these specific musicians, and we will make sure that we have discussions about their works so they can talk to the audience about contemporary music, which is important.

KF: Can you talk about what’s in store for next season?
ML: We are in the middle of setting up next season, so we will bring some musical variety to what we will present. Everything is still open, which is something I’m very proud of, because it’s nice to realize that inside this large institution, you can on short notice plan on doing fresh music for the audiences. Working on CONTACT and having new music integrated with the regular repertoire is always invigorating.
originally posted on

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