Christopher Rouse - Composer

Press and Program Notes


Concerto for Orchestra

Program Note by the Composer

Completed on February 24, 2008 in Baltimore, my Concerto for Orchestra was a commission from the Cabrillo Music Festival and is dedicated to Marin Alsop in honor of the Festival's co-directors, Ellen Primack and Tom Fredericks. It is scored for an orchestra of three flutes (3rd doubling piccolo), three oboes (3rd doubling English horn), two clarinets, bass clarinet (doubling piccolo clarinet), two bassoons, contrabassoon, four horns, three trumpets, three trombones, tuba, harp, timpani, percussion (four players), and strings.

As is typically the case with this genre, it is the members of the orchestra who are the soloists. Each is given passages requiring everything from singing lyricism to challenging virtuosity, and this work is essentially "about" allowing each player a chance to shine.

Having composed ten other concerti prior to this one, I have always had to wrestle with finding an effective form for the piece. Here I wanted to depart from the standard three or four movement concerto and construct something different. I decided to divide the concerto into connected halves (the term being used loosely). The first half would be made up of five rather brief sections — fast, slow, fast, slow, fast — in which the fast parts would share and develop the same musical material, while the slow ones would share and explore different material. The second half would consist of two sections, a slow one and a fast one, each meant to represent a sort of "full blossoming" of the related ideas from their counterparts earlier on. My hope was to draw the listener in more and more as the work progressed, with the final allegro building to a frenzied, almost hysterical, climax.

Christopher Rouse

San Francisco Chronicle

Joshua Kosman

"...a boisterous, exhilarating concoction, in which fiercely patterned rhythmic explosions alternate with lyrical interludes headed by the strings, and as the title suggests, it's a display piece for the orchestra members..." (Click to read the entire article)


Scott MacLelland

"...composed with dazzling virtuosity ... The work is an orchestral masterpiece and deserves ongoing exposure." (Click to read the entire article)

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