American Symphony Orchestra premieres new Farberman concerto for clarinet, revives original Bruckner symphony

American Symphony Orchestra’s music director Leon Botstein (photo by Steve J. Sherman)

American Symphony Orchestra’s music director Leon Botstein (photo by Steve J. Sherman)

It used to be that most children whose families could provide the luxury of music lessons started out on piano, but times have changed. With so many school bands restricted to woodwind, brass and percussion sections nowadays, the decision of what instrument a kid should take up to study has become more of a puzzle than ever. Take it from a parent whose kid fell in love with the dulcet tones of the oboe and later had to face the consequences of handing out shoes and uniforms every time the high school band does its marching-band unit: Versatility ought to be a major consideration.

And when it comes to woodwinds, you can’t get more versatile, stylistically speaking, than the clarinet. Not only do they have a place in the line of march on Homecoming Day, but accomplished clarinetists can also play in jazz ensembles and symphony orchestras, or even crank out some giddy klezmer tunes at a Jewish wedding. Now Harold Farberman, founder and artistic director of the Conductors’ Institute at Bard College, has composed a brand-new concerto for clarinet titled Triple Play that taps into all three of these historic veins of music that are so well-suited to the instrument’s woody-but-boisterous voice. The opus will have its world premiere this Friday and Saturday at Bard College’s Richard B. Fisher Center for the Performing Arts, thanks to the American Symphony Orchestra (ASO), and you might want to take your young wannabe-musician along to check it out before picking his or her instrument.

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“The clarinet is an instrument with extraordinary character. Mozart gave the clarinet a symphonic voice through his friend Anton Stadler, the virtuoso for whom he wrote a variety of works,” notes Farberman. “In the 20th century, Benny Goodman made the clarinet a popular solo jazz instrument. And for many long years, and in countless shtetls throughout Eastern Europe, the timbre of the clarinet, wrapped in soul, became the instantly identifiable sound of Jewish klezmer music. The three movements of Triple Play pay homage to three very different performing styles.”

Renata Rakova (Class of ’12), the winner of the Bard Conservatory of Music Concerto Competition in 2011, will be the featured performer in Triple Play. Also on the program – the second in the ASO’s 2012/13 season – will be the rarely performed or recorded original 1887 version of Anton Bruckner’s Symphony No. 8, said to be much influenced by Beethoven’s Ninth Symphony. The ASO series will continue in April with an all-Wagner program.

Farberman’s Triple Play and Bruckner’s Symphony No. 8 will be performed this Friday and Saturday, February 22 and 23, beginning at 8 p.m., preceded at 7 p.m. by a preconcert talk with ASO music director Leon Botstein, who will be conducting the program. Ticket prices are $25, $30, $35 and $40. To order, call (845) 758-7900 or visit https://fishercenter.bard.edu.

World premiere, Farberman’s Triple Play, + Bruckner’s Symphony No. 8, original version, American Symphony Orchestra, Friday/Saturday, Feb. 22/23, 8 p.m., $25/$30/$35/$40, Richard B. Fisher Center for the Performing Arts, Bard College, Annandale-on-Hudson; (845) 758-7900, https://fishercenter.bard.edu.

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