Austin Symphony Orchestra

ASO turns to Kickstarter for help in making its first CD – and rescuing a forgotten composer

Austin Symphony Orchestra

Crowdfunding isn't just for the little guys anymore. Once indie artists with limited resources proved they could fund projects costing thousands with microdonations, it was just a matter of time before major arts organizations followed their lead. Case in point: the Austin Symphony Orchestra, which is using Kickstarter to raise cash for its first commercial CD. The campaign, launched Feb. 21, seeks $30,000 to record four compositions by Edward Burlingame Hill. If the name has you asking, "Who?" that's the point. Hill is a musical figure remembered more as a teacher of composers than a composer himself. But while he did influence some notable composers in 20th century American music – his Harvard pupils included Leonard Bernstein, Elliott Carter, and Virgil Thomson – Hill also wrote music himself, much of it incorporating the syncopated rhythms and style of George Gershwin's music, and much of it unjustly neglected – so believe local music scholar Karl Miller and ASO Director Peter Bay. They see this CD as a way of bringing this work which had never been recorded – some of it never even played in concert – to the world.

Last May, the ASO premiered Hill's Symphony No. 4 and in January performed two concertinos and a divertimento with pianist Anton Nel. Having been there, I'll testify to their musical value. As I said of Hill's music in a review of the January concert, "A 20th century sensibility is encoded in their DNA: the casual discord and jangly rhythms of the modern metropolis; the swift, shifting tempos of its restlessly mobile citizens. They're quick, mutable, improvisatory, because modern life is, and with those qualities embodied in jazz (our nation's gift to music), they adopt its style, giving Hill's music an American signature as distinctive as a Gershwin Rhapsody." In the Concertino No. 2, "the piano – played by Anton Nel with his customary elegance and finesse – seemed to wander through Manhattan, dancing through the cosmopolitan hubbub on the streets, then contemplating the skyline from a penthouse. ... In Hill we hear his time, its lightness, fleetness, changeability, and, remarkably, 75 years later it still sounds fresh and charms our ear." Hear for yourself in musical samples from the concerts on ASO's Kickstarter page.

Two weeks in, ASO is halfway to the $30K, which won't cover even half of the recording's cost but will help pay for the orchestra and engineer, equipment transfers, editing, and publicity. You have until March 24 to contribute. Visit www.kickstarter.com or www.austinsymphony.org.

A note to readers: Bold and uncensored, The Austin Chronicle has been Austin’s independent news source for almost 40 years, expressing the community’s political and environmental concerns and supporting its active cultural scene. Now more than ever, we need your support to continue supplying Austin with independent, free press. If real news is important to you, please consider making a donation of $5, $10 or whatever you can afford, to help keep our journalism on stands.

Support the Chronicle  

READ MORE
More Austin Symphony Orchestra
Austin Symphony Orchestra's <i>Variation Voyage</i>
Austin Symphony Orchestra's Variation Voyage
ASO's first concert of 2019 had us hearing all sorts of feels, but Leon Fleisher's piano also got us thinking

Robert Faires, Jan. 18, 2019

Austin Symphony's <i>Happy Birthday, Lenny</i>
Austin Symphony's Happy Birthday, Lenny
In its concert celebrating Bernstein, the ASO shows the composer giving his all in even the briefest of works

Robert Faires, Oct. 26, 2018

More Austin classical music
A Guide to Austin Classical Music
A Guide to Austin Classical Music
The virtuosi who know the score and make beautiful music happen here

Robert Faires, April 26, 2019

Exhibitionism
The Creation
Texas Choral Consort's performance of Haydn's masterwork reawakened one's sense of life in all its immense variety

Robert Faires, Aug. 22, 2014

More by Robert Faires
Introducing the 2019 Class of the Austin Arts Hall of Fame
Introducing the 2019 Class of the Austin Arts Hall of Fame
The stories behind the art transformers of this year's Hall of Fame inductees

May 24, 2019

"Rosa Nussbaum: Horizonland" at Women & Their Work
The artist draws on her experience as a stranger in a strange land without her own wheels, viewing the world through the lens of a car window

May 24, 2019

KEYWORDS FOR THIS STORY

Austin Symphony Orchestra, Austin classical music, Edward Burlingame Hill, Karl Miller, Peter Bay, Anton Nel

MORE IN THE ARCHIVES
NEWSLETTERS
One click gets you all the newsletters listed below

Breaking news, arts coverage, and daily events

Can't keep up with happenings around town? We can help.

Austin's queerest news and events

Updates for SXSW 2019

All questions answered (satisfaction not guaranteed)

Information is power. Support the free press, so we can support Austin.   Support the Chronicle