For its first-ever spring festival, Brooklyn’s
One World Symphony will pair music by established composers with
world premieres by composers who were influenced by them on consecutive
Tuesday evenings at the church of St. Ann and the Holy Trinity
in Brooklyn Heights.
David Hong, conductor and director of One World, said the series,
which began March 25, grew out of the musicians’ own aspirations.
"We’d been giving concerts once a month this season, and
with all the promise within the ensemble, we felt there was more
we could be doing," he told GO Brooklyn.
"All our members are young, professionally skilled and dedicated
musicians who believe in what they are playing," he said,
"so the suggestion came that we perform once a week rather
than once a month. That started the idea of experimenting with
Hong said the orchestra aims high in such programming decisions.
"The challenge is finding the music to perform on each program,"
he explained. "The audience will hear the music of composers
they are likely already familiar with, and then hear their influence
on modern composers. We’re also featuring letters written by
the major composers, read by actors or scholars. And we’re featuring
four local composers alongside the better-known composers, putting
this new music into the context of the great composers of the
Each "new" composer on the program is familiar to Hong
and the orchestra and lives in the New York area: Margarita Zelenaia,
whose Sonata for Flute and Piano premiered March 25, lives in
Manhattan; Hong, whose "Musikverein" premieres April
1, lives in Prospect Park; Pedro D’Aquino, whose Mozart-influenced
world premiere will be April 8, is a Bay Ridge resident; and
John Craven, whose vocal work "To the New Day" premieres
April 15, recently moved from Park Slope to New Jersey.
The April 1 concert is indebted as much to a famous Austrian
philosopher as it is to the music of Richard Wagner.
"While I was at the Vienna State Conservatory, my philosophy
professor was a student of Viktor Frankl, himself a student of
Sigmund Freud," Hong explained. "She introduced me
to Frankl at one of my concerts, and he was an inspiration to
"It was his line, ’Let us shake hands over their graves,’
that made me think of Felix Mendelssohn, who was a Jew, and Wagner,
who was an anti-Semite. They both wrote very beautiful music,"
Hong’s composition "Musikverein" is subtitled "Homage
to Viktor Frankl," taking influences from Mendelssohn and
Wagner, who Hong believes has gotten a raw deal. Case in point:
Wagner’s lovely birthday present to his wife, Cosima, "Siegfried
Idyll," opening the April 1 program.
"It’s an intimate work, which contradicts the prevailing
thoughts about Wagner’s music – the incredible length, drama
and bombast," Hong said. "’Siegfried Idyll’ is the
total opposite, showing him as a gentle human being. Whatever
he said about others, it shows that he loved his wife."
For the April 8 program, Pedro D’Aquino – One World’s artistic
adviser – premieres a vocal work comprised of letters written
"The third movement of Mozart’s ’Gran Partita’ [which opens
the concert] has greatly influenced Pedro’s work – my teacher
once told me you could get a glimpse of heaven listening to that
movement, which is Mozart at his most sublime and elegant,"
said Hong. "Pedro uses the same orchestration: all winds."
Hong marveled, "He can do it all: organist, pianist and
baritone, as well as a composer."
The final program, on April 15, pairs Aaron Copland’s "Appalachian
Spring" with John Craven’s two-movement "To the New
Day" for chorus, baritone, mezzo-soprano and orchestra,
based on poems by University of Iowa professor Marvin Bell.
"There’s an honest struggle in John’s music," said
Hong, noting that American composers like Copland and Samuel
Barber have provided inspiration. Craven himself says, "’Appalachian
Spring’ has been a huge influence on me, and Copland’s emphasis
on the open space and nature exists in my piece as well. He was
a father of American music for many younger composers."
One World Symphony’s exciting series shows that classical music
is alive and well, a direct line connecting the great composers
of the past with those of the present.
One World Symphony will perform April 1, April 8 and April
15 at 8 pm at the Church of St. Ann and the Holy Trinity, corner
of Montague and Clinton streets in Brooklyn Heights. Tickets
are $20, $10 for students. For more information, go to www.oneworldsymphony.org.