The San Francisco Symphony presents a show that includes dancers, projections, a bar band, and a West Coast premiere, in a concert showcasing some mavericks of American music. Michael Tilson Thomas will lead his own piece, Four Preludes on Playthings of the Wind, with soprano Measha Brueggergosman, along side a pair of short works by Ives, selections by Lou Harrison, and A Jazz Symphony by George Antheil.
There’s more information about the concert at the San Francisco Symphony website.
“Music for a modern age,” MTT explains, “It’s a concert of music, very adventurous, challenging, but tuneful music, I have to say, presented inside of special installations of light, projection, stagecraft, that have been made to surround these pieces and tell you something more about what’s happening in the music.” So there are dancers, images, and some instruments not always found in Davies. For George Antheil’s Jazz Symphony, Thomas has envisioned the scenario for an avant-garde silent film, with a setting appropriate to when and where it was written by the ex-pat American composer. “The chicest night club in Paris, in 1920, in which during the course of the evening, two dancers, one inspired by Zelda Fitzgerald, and the other one by Josephine Baker, vie for the attentions of the musicians and the audience, so some of it’s very Folies Bergère, and some of it’s absolutely Picasso and Braque, it’s all there.” For his own piece, the text is a 1922 Carl Sandburg poem, “Very much about the party atmosphere that continues around societies that are experiencing enormous prosperity. Perhaps not being watchful enough about the ways in which that prosperity is being achieved… There are these three groups, the chamber orchestra, the bar band, the solo soprano, who is part of the time like a pop singer, and part of the time like a dramatic soprano, and this is sung by the astonishing performing artist Measha Brueggergosman.”