I am sometimes asked what my fantasy classical music concert would be. First, it would consist of music that is not often heard, in the hope that more people would come to appreciate it. With that in mind, allow me to program the following, assuming that I have a generous two hours to work with.
Song, William Averitt (alive, U.S.). A more vigorous and beautiful collaboration between piano and chorus you will not find. Part of a set of related pieces. 4 minutes.
Symphony No. 1, Colin Brumby (alive, Australia). Brumby is one of the best in the world, and seems to be little known outside of a few choirs – much of his output is choral music. The first and second movements of his Symphony No. 1 are absolutely wonderful, and the third movement is lively and a suitable conclusion. In particular, the long melodic lines and excellent writing for winds in the second movement is equal to that of anything by Elgar or Vaughan Williams, and often brushes fingertips with Brahms or Mendelssohn. 27 minutes.
Sonata da Chiesa, Adolphus Hailstork (alive, U.S.). As good a short orchestral piece by a modern composer as you will find. Darkly beautiful, superbly paced, with a mix of quick upper string work overlaid on a vigorous, melodically interesting low string ground. Occasional lighter segments offer a taste of more delicate sound, but the deeper thrum is never far away. 19.5 minutes.
Someday, Mary Ann Joyce-Walter (alive, U.S.). The conclusion of her extraordinary Cantata for the Children of Terezin. As the children of Theresienstadt are murdered by the Nazis, their imagined future concludes with a short quotation from Hatikvah. 9.5 minutes
Fuggi, Fuggi, Dolor, William Hawley (alive, U.S.). Hawley is one of the best choral composers living, and FFD is both sprightly and serious, a very traditional melodic sound with occasional modern tonal passages. 3.5 minutes
Santiago, Joby Talbot (alive, UK). A gorgeous, lively, powerful and often sublime choral work, it is the concluding part of a sequence called Path of Miracles. 18 minutes.
Hail, Queen of Heaven, Rihards Dubra (alive, Latvia). A modern sound, a traditional sound, a lush choral swirl. 11 minutes.
Mountain Song, Ned Rorem (alive – really – U.S.). This lovely flute-piano duet is Rorem at his finest. As I write, he is approaching his 90th birthday and still composing. Bravo ! 3 minutes.
Fecit Potentiam, Alan Hovhaness (dead, U.S.). This short segment from his greatly underappreciated Magnificat is a tight, formal showpiece for alto, brass and orchestra. Seldom has so much deep, gorgeous low sound been packed into such a short passage. 2.5 minutes.
Gloria, also Alan Hovhaness. Why not? The closing movement of the Magnificat is early Hovhaness, one of his most original pieces, with long, luscious brass solos and simple, uplifting choral work. 6 minutes.
Building the Barn, Maurice Jarre (dead, France). This simple, lovely passacaglia is from the movie soundtrack for Witness, and like the finest music for movies, it has lasting musical value. 5 minutes.
Hear You Me, Jimmy Eat World (alive, U.S.) performed by University of Oregon “On The Rocks.” A perfect mix of the serious and the delightful. Music does not get better than this. Hear you me my friends, on sleepless roads the sleepless go – may angels lead you in. Since my concert takes place at the Hult Center in Eugene, OTR is available. 4.5 minutes.
Viva la Vida, Coldplay (alive, UK), piano duet version by Anderson and Roe. They are available because they were the featured pianists in earlier pieces. Hey, it’s my concert, I get to pick the players. 4.5 minutes.
Hymn to a New Age, Lee Hoiby (dead, U.S.). Not exactly unknown, but certainly underperformed. As pure an example of the songwriter’s art as you will ever hear, and a nice major-key closing piece with chorus, orchestra and organ. 5 minutes.