12 April – 3 May 2012
Touring North America is nothing if not gruelling. Distances are vast, flights are rarely direct because airline hubs are scattered randomly over the continent and bus trips span state-lines and time-zones.
In between the major musical centres of Chicago, Toronto and New York, our North American tour included performances in beautiful venues in a number of smaller cities and university towns; the Norton Center in Danville, Kentucky; the DeBartolo Performing Arts Center at Notre Dame University in Southbend, Indiana; and Bailey Hall at Cornell University in upstate New York were outstanding.
Teddy Tahu Rhodes caused a gasp every time he strode on-stage making his dramatic entry while the Orchestra crescendoed through the last chord of Robert Saxton’s short prelude before launching attaccainto Richard Rodney Bennett’s Songs before sleep.
In the other program of this tour, soprano Dawn Upshaw sang the beguiling song cycle Winter Morning Walksby jazz composer Maria Schneider. It was an especially memorable collaboration between this superb singer, a distinctive composer, the ACO strings and three musicians from Maria’s jazz orchestra. Immediately following the final concert at Carnegie Hall, Dawn, Richard and the musicians went into a recording studio in Manhattan to capture this ravishing song cycle for future CD release.
Several concerts on this tour opened with the interleaving of Webern’s Five Pieces for String Orchestra and four movements from Black Angels by George Crumb, a bold concept which struck The New York Times: “The unusual suite received a dynamic, detailed performance by this excellent ensemble, admired for its adventurous programming.”
But it was the ACO’s performances of Schoenberg’s Transfigured Nightand Richard’s arrangements of Grieg and Ravel’s string quartets which had audiences on their feet at every concert. Far from the applause/exodus that greets many symphonic concerts in the US (known in New York as the “standing evacuation”), the ACO’s audiences stood and cheered until encores were offered.
We received invitations to so many cities that our future US plans have expanded to include annual visits in the next few seasons, starting with concerts in California next March and an extensive tour taking in Los Angeles, Boston and New York in March 2014.
Timothy Calnin, ACO General Manager