Musings From the Maestro


The thing that influenced me most was the way Tommy (Dorsey) played his trombone    It was my idea to make my voice work in the same as a trombone or violin, not sounding like them, but playing the voice like those instrumentalists.

– Frank Sinatra

Frank Sinatras quote articulates the inspiration behind the Alexandria Symphony Orchestras current season which celebrates symphonic music inspired by the voice transcendent music that makes the orchestra sing and soar like a master vocalist.   Sinatras approach would no doubt appeal to the composers in the ASOs November 15 concert entitled, O Thankful Voice. Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart loved the voice and primarily thought of himself as a vocal composer.  Mozart wished he had a stage-worthy singing voice, but since this was not amongst his wealth of talents, (something I can empathize with) he compensated by creating a whole new genre the virtuoso piano concerto.  His voice sang through his piano.

For the ASOs upcoming concert, the acclaimed pianist, Yuliya Gorenman, will be performing Mozarts Piano Concerto No. 21 arguably the most popular of Mozarts piano concertos.  You may recognize the beautiful second movement as being the theme from the movie Elvira Madigan.  Gorenman is taking time out of her complete Beethoven piano sonata cycle at American University to perform with us on this special concert. 

Whereas Mozarts piano concerto shows off the singing quality of the piano, the Dvorak String Serenade was written to showcase the lyricism unique to the strings.  Every note of this masterpiece is imbued with a searing and heart-rending vocality.

Rounding out the program is Alec Wilders Suite for Horn and Strings performed by Amy Horn, the ASOs principal horn player.  Horn is a true virtuoso and compelling lyricist.  She demonstrates a total mastery over her instrument and exemplifies the caliber of musician in the ASO.  As with the other two pieces on this program, the Wilder will display beautiful songlike qualities infused with stunning virtuosity.  

The remaining concerts this season will continue to embody Sinatras opening sentiment.  The legendary Branford Marsalis will be featured on the March 7 and 8 concert O Lyric Voice performing works inspired by the voice, including one of my own compositions.  I composed Vocalise for Branford Marsalis to express Marsalis intensely vocal and ultra expressive approach to his instrument.  In a sense, Vocalise for Branford Marsalis could also be seen as an anthem to the entire season a season-long celebration of transcendent music that makes the orchestra sing and soar like a master vocalist. 

Mr Sinatra: Your goal was to play the voice like master instrumentalists, ours is to make our instruments sing like the legendary vocalists!