If you’re in the Twin Cities tomorrow, you might want to drop by Orchestra Hall and spend the afternoon with John Corigliano. He’ll be on hand to meet with area composers and composition students at an open rehearsal of his Mr. Tambourine Man: Seven Poems for Bob Dylan, and will host a roundtable discussion later that afternoon. Corigliano is the first of five guest composers scheduled to participate in the Minnesota Orchestra/American Composers Forum/University of Minnesota collaborative Composer-To-Composer Series this season.
It’s not a new idea for the ACF, which has developed similar programs in Philadelphia, Boston, and Atlanta. A success elsewhere, implementing the program in Minnesota seemed a natural step. This is not a competition—performances of works by the participating composers were already scheduled as part of the Minnesota Orchestra’s season (most will be world premieres). The program is simply a way the ACF hopes to build on that. “We decided as long as these composers are in town, we should be doing more to take advantage of their presence,” explains David Wolff, ACF’s Minnesota chapter director. “It seemed like a really great opportunity to have the local composers, composition students, and community members come and hear rehearsals and have the chance to meet and discuss things with the visiting composers.”
Minnesota Orchestra New Music Advisor Aaron Jay Kernis, who will host his own session on February 4, 2004, in conjunction with the Midwest premiere of his Color Wheel, praises the program for bringing “world-class composers from around the globe in direct contact with Twin Cities area composers and new-music enthusiasts, for personal and undoubtedly far-ranging discussions.”
The series also includes two November sessions—November 12 with Stephen Paulus and November 26 with Peter Lieberson. Nicholas Maw concludes the series March 3. (see sidebar for a complete schedule and additional information)
Wolff expects Corigliano’s visit to be a great start for the program based on his local name recognition (his works include the Pulitzer prize-winning Symphony No. 2 and the score for the motion picture The Red Violin, a work known within the community). Also, Wolff notes, since the Dylan songs were originally scored for a chamber group, “what works especially well for this is the idea that he’s orchestrated it. I think that that’s going to be a really interesting speaking point—to learn about how a piece goes from a smaller chamber setting into a larger orchestral setting.”
Wolff sees all of this as part of the supportive new music environment being fostered in Minnesota. (He notes that a recent ACF survey showed there are nearly 600 composers in the Twin Cities metro area.) “There’s a lot going in here,” Wolff says, “and because of that your average audience member is able to participate and take in a lot more than they are in other markets, particularly in the Midwest. We’re still not on the scale of some of the larger cultural centers in the country but I think what we have pre capita is really quite impressive.”
Forty people have already RSVP’d to attend the Corigliano rehearsal and roundtable, and Wolff is expecting a number of last-minute arrivals will bolster that figure. The Perkins Center for the Arts (K-12), the University of Minnesota composition department, and local composers with private studios will be bringing students. Even a few community members have signed up.