This year’s Music Now Festival was bigger and better than ever. I did not make it to everything, nor did I love everything that I heard, but much of what I did hear was spectacular. On Thursday, Jeffrey Ziggler blew me away. At the symphony concerts on Friday and Saturday, I heard world premiers of works that I think will be played for years to come. Personally, I am not so excited by the The National that I would go out of my way to hear them in front of an orchestra, but I need to step outside of my comfort zone sometimes, and I am thrilled to see their fans at Music Hall, listening to the music I love.
Of course, the Cincinnati Symphony Orchestra under Louis Langrée plays with incredible technical virtuosity, beauty, and energy.
Last year, I was happy with the festival, but in truth, I thought the best thing on the two symphony programs was the nearly 100 year old Prokofiev that served as a finale. This year, the symphony concerts ended with an even better known iconoclastic favorite from Varèse, but I think I heard music from living composers was every bit as good. This festival is rising to a new level. I commend Bryce Dessner, curator of the festival, for building this up over the years, and Louis Langrée for seizing the opportunity to incorporate this into the orchestra season.