Music Without Borders
NDR Symphony at Carnegie

Some Old New Music

0324072206Local new music ensemble Continuum says that their name comes from their belief that new music and old form an unbroken tradition. They demonstrated this belief last night at the Peoples' Symphony, with a wide ranging program that featured composers from Latin America, Europe and the U.S., mostly written in the past 25 years.

Continuum has been a frequent guest of the PSC over the years, despite the fact that the hall was noticeably less full than at other concerts this season - a testament to series director Frank Solomon's commitment to new music. What struck me was the group's longevity: Continuum was founded in 1966 by Joel Sachs and Cheryl Seltzer, and both still perform actively with the group. To me, it was strange to see septuagenarians playing music that so often seems to be the exclusive province of the young. Whatever last night lacked in the freewheeling, rock-and-roll style of today's new music concerts, it more than made up in ability and seriousness of presentation. Continuum obviously believes that this music belongs on the same stage as Beethoven and Brahms, and that it's only the prism of time that separates them. (I wouldn't necessarily agree, but I admire their conviction.)

The crowd favorite last night was Francis Schwartz's theatrical "Daimon II" (1986), which featured exuberant gestures and audience participation: at one point, Sachs had us all stomping our feet in unison. When it ended, I saw several in the crowd rise to their feet in applause, an honor I haven't even seen the Juilliard Quartet receive at these concerts.

The final concert in the People's Symphony Chamber Series will be on April 14, with pianist Richard Goode playing music by Mozart, Brahms and Debussy. Sure to be a sellout; call soon if you want tickets.