The Austin Chronicle

Austin Symphony Orchestra: Commission fever

By Robert Faires, October 26, 2007, Arts

Everybody wants to make their first performances in the Long Center something special. Conspirare is rolling out the powerful Verdi Requiem. Austin Lyric Opera is leading off with opera's bad girl, Carmen, then following up with an adaptation of Die Fledermaus set in Austin and scripted by the cutups at Esther's Follies. Ballet Austin is going classic with the classical ballet Don Quixote. So what about the symphony? Austin Symphony Orchestra had previously announced its one-two punch of Beethoven's Symphony No. 8 and Symphony No. 9 for its second concert in the Long Center in May (the grand finale of its two-year run through all of Ludwig van's symphonic works), but the excitement won't stop there. For the opening of its 98th season next September, ASO has commissioned a new orchestral work from composer Christopher Theofanidis. If the name rings a bell, you may be recalling his Rainbow Body, which ASO performed in its first concert of the 2005-06 season. That particular piece was the most performed orchestral work by a living composer in the 2004-05 season, which should tell you something about the man's standing in music circles, as should the fact that his works have been performed by such diverse ensembles as the National Symphony, the London Symphony, the Oslo Philharmonic, the Orchestre Philharmonique de Monte-Carlo, the Moscow Soloists, the Atlanta Symphony, the California Symphony, the Brooklyn Philharmonic, and the Pro Arte Chamber Orchestra. And that he was nominated for a Grammy last year for his choral/orchestral work The Here and Now. And that he's received the International Masterprize, the Rome Prize, a Guggenheim Fellowship, a Fulbright Fellowship, and the American Academy of Arts and Letters' Charles Ives Fellowship. In short, ASO has lined up a winner in Theofanidis. Come on, 98th season! For more information, visit

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