In programming this concert with the California Symphony, there were a few ‘a-ha moments’ that I hoped to share with everyone, on stage and off. Because conductors and unadventurous and nervous marketing departments of most symphony orchestras have sadly codified the repertoire, you, the audience, rarely get to hear all of the other great music composed by famous composers, let alone all of the wonderful stuff being composed right now. Mozart wrote 41 symphonies (actually more than that), but how many of them have you heard live?
Haydn was considered the greatest living composer in his day, and wrote 104 symphonies (actually more than that), yet why don’t we hear more of his symphonies performed alongside the other great pieces of the Classical era?
And while it’s important to keep these amazing geniuses on their pedestals, it’s also important to realize that they were human like the rest of us and they all had to start from somewhere. Mozart’s early works are certainly phenomenal for an eight-year old, but you can hear that his first symphony is a work of a juvenile and it’s absolutely fascinating to be able to put it into context with the rest of his symphonies we all know so well. Finally, pairing these two towering figures with a living composer like Kevin Puts, someone who could be living down the street from YOU, is a perspective and context that I love to create with the programming of concerts I conduct with every orchestra with which I work.