ARNOLD SCHOENBERG CENTER, VIENNA.
Music history is littered with stories of masterpieces condemned at their premieres. But even against this backdrop, Arnold Schoenberg’s “Pierrot Lunaire,” which turned 100 in March, is legendary for the outrage it provoked — and can provoke still.
“The most ear-splitting combination of tones that ever desecrated the walls of a Berlin concert hall,” complained one critic after attending the premiere. Thirty years later a WNYC broadcast of the first recording so incensed Mayor Fiorello La Guardia that he phoned the head of the station to get it taken off the air.
Recent comments on YouTube performances are decidedly mixed, with many calling it “weird,” “creepy,” and “depressing,” while others are mystified: “Thumbs up if you're listening to this while you're high.”
And yet there is something about “Pierrot” that keeps musicians
Atlanta composer Alvin Singleton premieres new work with the ASO | Atlanta A&E Blog | Atlanta Galleries, Visual Arts, Theater | Culture Surfing | Creative Loafing Atlanta
Music Atlanta composer Alvin Singleton premieres new work with the ASO
Posted by Andrew Alexander on Wed, May 9, 2012 at 10:45 AM
"It's about an ever-changing perspective on a river that is always moving," explains Singleton. "Each time you step in you’re at a different place.” Although Singleton's compositions have been premiered and performed by major orchestras around the world, the composer has long maintained especially strong ties to Atlanta and the ASO.
Born in Brooklyn in 1940, Singleton studied at New York University, Yale, and as a Fulbright Scholar in Rome. After his studies in Rome, he remained in Europe for fourteen years as a free-lance composer, where he met Robert Shaw, then the Music Director of the Atlanta Symphony Orchestra. The meeting ultimately led to Singleton’s appointment as Composer-in-Residence for the Atlanta Symphony Orchestra, a post he held from 1985-88. In 1988, he became the first Composer-in-Residence at Spelman College, a position he held until 1991. The composer has lived in midtown Atlanta since his residency ended.
Under Robert Spano, the ASO has performed Singleton's PraiseMaker in 2009, Miaka Kumi in 2010 and After Fallen Crumbs in 2011, a work that was originally composed for the ASO in 1988. His musical style is strongly influenced by popular music including the Beatles, John Coltrane and James Brown as well as the gospels and spirituals he heard in his family's church.
The ASO concerts this weekend will also feature pianist Leon Bates playing Gershwin’s “Rhapsody in Blue” with the orchestra and performances of Aaron Copland’s Symphony No. 3.
The Atlanta Symphony Orchestra performs Alvin Singleton's "Different River" at 8 p.m. on May 10, 11, and 12, at Symphony Hall, 1280 Peachtree Street, Atlanta. For more information or to purchase tickets, call 404-733-5000 or visit www.atlantasymphony.org.