Describe your best and worst memories of premiere performances David Del Tredici, Composer

David Del Tredici
Photo by Robin Holland courtesy Boosey & Hawkes

1976 premiere of FINAL ALICE in Chicago with Solti conducting and Barbara Hendricks, soprano soloist. Because the piece was so tonal — long stretches in the purest D Major — I was terrified the piece would be ridiculed by the public, press and players. As well, the performance apparatus was huge and unorthodox: winds/brass in 4, a siren, a theremin, complex soprano amplification, orchestral players asked to whisper.

What happened? The audience cheered and stood up, the reviews were ecstatic. I was on my way.

Premiere of POP-POURRI for soprano solo, rock group, chorus and orchestra at La Jolla, California in 1968. This was the first piece I’d written with orchestra. The orchestration was a mess and the small orchestra unequal to the task. The conservative audience hearing electric guitars and saxes in a concert hall at this time (1968) were horrified. I felt as though I had just farted in church and then had to bow in recognition.