Looking Forward to Concert No. 1 by Paul Lamar

Looking Forward Preview Series

By Paul Lamar

What better way to start the Albany Symphony season this year than with a celebration of David Alan Miller’s 25th year as music director! When you look at the program for the September 24 concert, you might wonder how the pieces fit together. How did David decide to put these three works together? In a conventional sense there is usually a curtain raiser of some sort, followed by a concerto, and---after intermission---a blockbuster symphony. To that extent this program is conventional. But the questions remain: which curtain raiser, which concerto, and which symphony? Check out David on YouTube in a six-minute segment called “David Alan Miller talks about the art of programming.” Fascinating.

Reena Esmail is featured in numerous YouTube videos. Visit the brief choral piece called “Tuttarana,” performed by the Mount Holyoke Glee Club, for a sense of what her music (both Western and Hindustani based) sounds like. And you might want to stop by Opalka Gallery, The Sage Colleges, 140 New Scotland Avenue, Albany, for an art show by Siona Benjamin called “Beyond Borders.” As William Jaeger notes in his positive Times Union review of August 28, “(Benjamin’s) influences as a Jewish woman growing up in mostly Hindu and Muslim India, and her further influences resettling to a contemporary United States, are naturally complicated. Gladly complicated.” The show opens on September 8 and runs through October 9.

In addition to bringing new composers before the Capital Region public, Maestro Miller frequently introduces us to soloists with whom we may not be familiar. I didn’t know Natasha Paremski’s name before seeing it on the program, but after watching her YouTube performance of the Rachmaninoff Piano Concerto No. 3, with Andrew Litton (the new conductor of the New York City Ballet, by the way), I can’t wait to see her in the Ravel. This year she is concertizing at least 40 times throughout the world. In September alone she will be in California with the Tchaikovsky Piano Concerto No. 1, in Mississippi with the Rachmaninoff Piano Concerto No. 2, and, after Albany, in Ontario, with the Rach 3. Catch her on YouTube in recital and with orchestra, and listen to “Conversations with Natasha Paremski,” six minutes of personal reflection. Also, check out her website: natashaparemski.com

Sibelius! One of the beauties of looking at a performance on YouTube is the camera work; that is, you not only hear the music, but you get to see, up close, exactly who is making the music. Is that the sound of an oboe or an English horn? How do strings play pizzicato? What does a brass mute look like? Watch a movement of the Symphony No. 5, and check out Sibelius’s orchestration. In particular, observe the way he layers sound in the last four or five minutes of the symphony as the camera zooms in on each section. (I’m thinking of the Leonard Bernstein performance with the Vienna Philharmonic. Spectacular.)