QQueer Urban Orchestra (QUO) has as its theme for this season “We Are One,” diversity in a chaotic world at a troubled time, and at its first night’s concert, on November 4 at Church of the Holy Apostles, in Chelsea, the ensemble probed music of the ‘Old World,’ of ‘the New World,’ and from the Old World looking at the New, and aptly stressed nationalism as proud unifier, not divider. Artistic Director Julie Desbordes presided.
In Jean Sibelius’ “Finlandia” (1899, revised 1900), QUO realized the composer’s expansive evocation of his rugged northern land, its nature and its people, not due to achieve independence from Russia until 1917. With “Nostalgias Silenciosas (2016), by Argentinean transgender composer Calenna Garbä, QUO found an opus marked by introspection, then passion and color, incorporating a major piano solo, fluently played by Nolan Dresden, and then echoed by the orchestra. For Georges Enesco’s “Romanian Rhapsody Number One” (1901), QUO breathed fresh life into the insistent and whirling gypsy dance that is the work’s basis.
In Antonín Leopold Dvorák’s Symphony Number Nine (from the New World) (1893), the most ambitious piece programmed, the Czech composer looked at America with awe and hope, vividly conveyed by QUO’s musicians, as they limned wild, craggy landscapes and tempestuous seascapes in the Allegro Molto, following the Adagio, of the first movement; the folk-like strains of the Largo, leading into the spiritual-style “Goin’ Home” melody, given a smooth plangent legato reading by Matthew Hadley on English horn; and after the Scherzo: Molto Vivace, the monumental Allegro con fuoco, its primal sound seemingly hewn from the earth of the massive land, new to Europeans and full of promise.
Prior to the performance, Desbordes moderated a panel discussion with composer Garbä, about “Nostalgias Silenciosas,” with bass player Álvaro Rodas acting as interpreter; Hadley, on his solo in Dvorák’s symphony; and trumpeter Ron Nahass, who presents his new composition later in QUO’s season.
On December 16 and 17, QUO will play Jessica DiMari’s “Ascension,” Ludwig van Beethoven’s Symphony Number Three (Eroica), and music from Peter Ilyich Tchaikovsky’s “Nutcracker.”. On February 24, 2017, QUO focuses on works by Emmanuel Chabrier and Florence Price, with a contribution by the orchestra’s concerto composition competition winner. March 17 brings a QUOtets chamber concert. On May 5, hear Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart’s Symphony Number 39 and music of Augusta Holmès and Ron Nahass, as well as a work by QUO’s other composition contest winner. QUO’s June 16 Pride Gay-La features guest violinist Lindsay Deutsch, playing her work for violin and orchestra, based on music of the Beatles. Visit www.QueerUrbanOrchestra.org
for further information. The December 16 concert will be given at the Queens Theater at Corona Park in Flushing Meadows. All other concerts take place at Church of the Holy Apostles, 296 Ninth Avenue, at 28th Street.