Tuesday, February 15, 2011

Conversation with Sympho Artistic Director Paul Haas

A conversation with Sympho Artistic Director Paul Haas as he talks about the ambitious scope of ARCO, what it's like to develop a site-specific piece for the Park Avenue Armory, the confluence of the old and the new in both the venue and the music, and how the themes of struggle, aggression, protection, ecstasy and revelation are treated by and shared among the three composers of ARCO.

Monday, February 14, 2011

Tomorrow we go in!

We've been rehearsing the orchestra for two days now, and I've got to tell you - this is one incredible band. I feel like I'm driving a Lamborghini. They can do absolutely anything - crazy mixed meters, the whole range of dynamics, colors, and styles, and it's almost as if they're able to intuit what I want. Really phenomenal.

Tomorrow night, we move in to the 55,000 square foot Drill Hall to put this concert in its home. Up until now, we've been in a gorgeous historic room in the Armory, but what we've heard bears little resemblance to how it will actually sound in the Drill Hall. Luckily, Bora Yoon, Paul Fowler and I have done tons of research in the Drill Hall, figuring out its acoustics, even before we wrote a note of music.

This may be the last post I write before ARCO. It's gonna get pretty crazy.

Seriously...come to ARCO.

Saturday, February 12, 2011

And it begins

Rehearsals for Sympho's ARCO start tomorrow at the Armory - long days on Sunday, Monday, Tuesday, and Wednesday, including the performance at 7:30pm. Believe it or not, the first time we'll actually be in the enormous Drill Hall as an ensemble is Tuesday night. Paul Fowler, Bora Yoon, and I cannot wait to hear this music live in that fantastic venue, and we can't wait to share it with YOU.

As you can imagine, the next few days will be packed with activity for everyone involved in this production, so I'll try to get all the important details out right now, before it all hits:

1) Come. You will not want to miss this one. Wednesday, February 16 at 7:30 at the Park Avenue Armory's 55,000 square foot Wade Thompson Drill Hall at 643 Park Avenue, New York City. Buy your tickets here.

2) Read the program notes, beautifully written by Ruth Pongstaphone, ARCO's Staging and Visual Design Director. I can't stress enough how much this piece rewards deeper levels of knowledge.

3) Come to the 6pm pre-concert talk at the Armory, free for ticket-holders. You have to pre-register for this, though.

That's it for now. I'll try to post between now and the concert, but...no promises.

Tuesday, February 8, 2011


For those of you who want to geek out on the nitty-gritty, here are the instruments/singers involved in ARCO:


14 Violins
5 Violas
4 Celli
3 Basses
3 Flutes/Piccolos
3 Oboes/1 English Horn
3 Clarinets/1 Bass Clarinet
3 Bassoons
4 Horns
3 Trumpets
2 Tenor Trombones
1 Bass Trombone
1 Tuba
2 Percussionists, playing all sorts of interesting instruments (10-gallon water jugs, anyone?)
2 Laptops
1 Harp
2 Pianos
1 Celesta


1 Soprano (Bora Yoon)
1 Bass-Baritone (Charles Perry Sprawls)
New York Polyphony (early music quartet)

And...a partridge in a pear tree. I think that's it.

One Week Out...

A lot has happened since I wrote my last post. The score to ARCO is completely done. We've constructed and printed the orchestral parts. We've devised the movement paradigm - i.e., who plays what from where (did I mention that the Armory takes up an entire city block?). We've recruited yet another fantastic addition to our team, in the person of Ruth Pongstaphone, who is acting as our Staging and Visual Design Director. The orchestra has been hired.

Basically, we're ready to go. Supremely exciting. We're very honored to be the opening night of the Armory's Tune-In festival, which New York's WQXR is calling the Top New Music Event of 2011.

Our program notes are up and ready for download here. We definitely recommend reading them in advance, as this concert rewards the listener for entering successively deeper levels of understanding.

Tickets are still available, but reserved seats are becoming scarce. Once you've bought your tickets, don't forget to register for the 6pm pre-concert talk with Paul Fowler, Bora Yoon, and me. We'll be discussing the evolution and work process of ARCO, along with getting into more detail even than the program notes.

Things are about to get hectic, as rehearsals commence Sunday. I'll try to keep you posted as we go along. See you at ARCO!