The Bryan Symphony Orchestra at Tennessee Tech University returns to the stage in 2011 with a generous helping of Neoclassical music, which is known for blending the formal beauty of a previous era with modern orchestration and sound -- and for honoring the past without sounding old-fashioned. The concert begins at 3 p.m., Sunday, Feb. 13, in TTU's Wattenbarger Auditorium. Tickets are $30 for adults, $26 for seniors 65 and up, and $8 for students. Call 525-2633 for reservations. The performance is made possible in part by the Nancy Nichols Williams Concert Endowment.
"This program is a great way to spell out what Neoclassicism is about, to talk about 20th century composers who were writing music that was clever but not shocking," says BSO Music Director Dan Allcott. "Neoclassicism in music, just like Neoclassicism in architecture, is about looking back at what was considered beautiful and making it relevant today. When you build a home in the classic Greek style, for instance, you'll likely include columns, but also modern plumbing. I'm always interested in composers who are successful in their reactions to their times -- and the great ones have great reactions."
On the program for the concert is a single example of the Classical period, Mozart's "Impresario Overture," followed by three Neoclassical compositions, including Ralph Vaughan Williams' "Tallis Fantasia" and Igor Stravinsky's "Pulcinella Suite."
The rise of Neoclassicism began just after World War I, when so many nations were still reeling from the personal and financial devastation of not only the Great War, but the pandemic that followed. Resources – economic and human – were scarce, and even composers like Stravinsky, who'd become known for huge and modern compositions, began to respond with a more refined and austere sound. Stravinsky's reputation was born early in the century with "The Rite of Spring," a ballet as scandalous as it was a sensation. But by 1920, when he wrote "Pulcinella," he'd scaled back in both subject matter and orchestration.
"Stravinsky wasn't going to continue writing scores that required the enormous resources of 'The Rite of Spring,' and he wasn't going to write a ballet as controversial as 'The Rite of Spring,' either," says Allcott. "He'd moved on. He was dealing with the times – and that was the genius of the Neoclassicists: They responded appropriately."
Sunday's program also includes Jacques Ibert's "Flute Concerto" with soloist Jillian Storey, who has performed with the BSO since 2008. She's this season's winner of the Joan Derryberry Memorial Concerto Competition, Tennessee Tech's most rigorous test of select music majors. Derryberry, who taught piano and music history at TTU for many years and helped found the orchestra in 1963-64, said that the personal and artistic growth she experienced as a soloist inspired her to create a similar opportunity for TTU student musicians.
Storey comes to the stage with impressive academic and performance credentials. She was in the top 2 percent of her graduating class at Clarksville High School and a member of a number of honor societies. Now a junior at TTU, she's won at least four academic scholarships and has performed with the Trouveres Jazz Band, Wind Ensemble, Symphony Band, Concert Band, the Bryan Symphony and even two of her own quartets: "Flute Loop" and "Eos," for saxophone.