Nashville Symphony Preps for “Uncommon” Carnegie Hall Performance

Composer Terry Riley and electric violinist Tracy Silverman in February 2012. Photo by Martin B. Cherry/courtesy of the artists

What do you pack for a trip to Carnegie Hall? The Nashville Symphony is bringing along five conductors, three pianists, and a very large bell.

The orchestra will give the finale performance at a music festival that’s billed as the place to hear “uncommon” concerts.

Nashville Symphony will play a brand new piece from composer Terry Riley that features the electric violin. Percy Grainger’s Warriors calls for a trio of pianists pound both on their keyboards and inside their instruments. And then there’s Charles Ives’ rarely performed Universe Symphony.

As assistant conductor Kelly Corcoran explains, it essentially separates the orchestra into multiple smaller groups, each following different tempos and patterns.

“There’s moments where things line up and then moments in between you’re kind of doing your own thing. It’s impossible for one conductor to show all of that rhythmic variation by themselves.”

The NSO is using five conductors at once, each of whom will keep time with the help of a carefully choreographed track of computer-generated clicks, piped in just to them through headphones.

Nashville audiences heard the Riley and Grainger pieces at concerts this weekend. The orchestra is taking the unusual step of inviting the public to a rehearsal of the Ives tomorrow night, since its only concert performance will be the one at Carnegie Hall.

The Carnegie Hall show Saturday night, May 12th, will be broadcast live on Classical 91.1 at 6:30 p.m., CDT. You can also listen online and participate in a live chat during the performance here.

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