(LOWELL, Mass.) — NEWS: he Lowell Chamber Orchestra announces the release of its second album, “Miniature Symphonies,” a project started at the height of the pandemic, and designed to keep selected composers and musicians active at a time of insecurity in the performing arts.
The album is part of an initiative by the Lowell Chamber Orchestra’s Music Director Orlando Cela called “Lowell Threads,” a way to pay homage to the textile history of the city of Lowell. The orchestra commissions a new way to showcase new composers alongside a set of works by a well-known composer, a genre, a style, etc., and programs them next to each other, allowing for a multidimensional experience akin to a fabric of new works crisscrossing with established masterpieces. In the case of these album, four living composers – Brittney Benton, Yoko Nakatani, Quinn Mason, and Kevin L. Scott – were commissioned to write a piece matching the instrumentation of one of five chamber symphonies by Darius Milhaud.
“Orlando Cela’s creative ideas always inspire me, and this project was no exception,” says composer Yoko Nakatani. “I was honored to be a part of it, and wish the Lowell Chamber Orchestra great success in the future with Orlando’s excellent leadership. I would also like to thank the recording engineer Will Holland, who is a true professional and made a difficult process easy.”
Producing this album kept a number of musicians active during the pandemic. The reduced instrumentation – no more than 10 and as little as seven players at a time – eased the finding of venues; the shortness of the works, none longer than 7 minutes, allowed more recording time to commission more composers.
“We started recording 10 feet apart from each other, and behind plexiglass shields” says LCO’s Music Director Orlando Cela, “but we kept going when concert halls were closed. We were very fortunate to be able to access the beautiful spaces at Middlesex Community College Lowell campus. Such great acoustics!”
The four commissioned works sometime compliment, sometimes opposed the nature of the matching work. Las Vegas composer Brittney Benton’s “The Sentinel” was written with the same instrumentation as Milhaud’s first chamber symphony: while Milhaud’s work (subtitled “Spring”) has a bright and pastoral quality to it, Benton’s work offers a dramatic story filled with foreboding. On the other hand, Dallas-based composer Quinn Mason wrote a work orchestrated for the exact instrumentation, and is heavily inspired by the style of Milhaud’s fourth chamber symphony, as the title suggests – Petite Symphonie de Chambre Contemporaine (après Milhaud).
Composer Brittney Benton says, “‘The Sentinel’ was a joy to write, and I’m excited to bring the story I’ve crafted through my music to CD and to the world.”
“I thoroughly enjoyed writing for the Lowell Chamber Orchestra and to have a work recorded by them is an honor. The entire process had me involved in some way so it truly felt like a fruitful collaboration,” says composer Quinn Mason.
The Lowell Chamber Orchestra is Lowell’s first and only professional orchestra. We provide the area with an ensemble that presents music at a very high level, of all styles and time periods, entirely free to the general population. The performances take place at Middlesex Community College, the University of Massachusetts Lowell, and at other venues around the area, to provide students easy access to concerts without leaving their respective campuses, and allow the public in general to attend a concert at a proper performance space. The LCO is a member of Lowell City of Learning, working to make Lowell an UNESCO learning city.
The album will be released this Friday, August 26th, in the most popular digital platforms. For more information about the album, visit: https://www.navonarecords.com/catalog/nv6447/
Listen to the first track of the CD here: https://tinyurl.com/LCOMason
The Lowell Chamber Orchestra survives solely by donations, you can make a huge difference by donating here: https://tinyurl.com/LCOdonate
Related link: https://lowellchamberorchestra.org/
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