Under the baton of celebrated American conductor Marin Alsop, the National Youth Orchestra of the United States of America (NYO-USA) presents a program of works by John Adams, Gabriela Lena Frank, and Gustav Mahler, live from Carnegie Hall.
It is a common idea that an artist's early creations are signs of greater works to come. But the two works on tonight's program—written by Adams and Mahler as young composers—are mature masterpieces in their own right. John Adams' four-minute long Short Ride in a Fast Machine is a compelling example of the composer's now-beloved accessible minimalism, with relentless pulsations heavily layered among insistent consonant harmonies. In turn, Mahler's First Symphony features all the ingredients—sensational Romanticism, folkloric citations, monumental scope and microscopic attention to detail—we now see as typical of his compositional language and personal odyssey.
Bookended between these classic works is a new composition by contemporary composer Gabriela Lena Frank commissioned by Carnegie Hall for the NYO-USA. Apu: Tone Poem for Orchestra explores the composer's Peruvian heritage through folklore, depicting the Apu, mischievous mountain spirits who ensure safe passage to travelers once they have been placated by song and prayer.
Photo: Marin Alsop © Grant Leighton