RPO concert features contemporary composers, strong women

Sep 20, 2019

Left: Violinist Leila Josefowicz; Right: Director Ward Stare
Credit Provided

The Rochester Philharmonic Orchestra has played contemporary music on their concerts alongside older classics before -- but this weekend’s concert is the first time that the whole program is dedicated to the work of living composers.

Leila Josefowicz is the violin soloist for the RPO's concert this weekend. She says that she no longer plays the older classics and wants to work with music that is "more unexpected, more edgy, more contemporary."

She says she's been asking herself, "Why are we following in others' footsteps? Why isn’t someone feeling more fire to do something really truly unexpected and different?"

In this concert, Josefowicz is the soloist in Scheherazade.2 -- a piece in which composer John Adams re-imagines the story of Scheherazade, a woman who told stories to save her life, night after night, framing the collection known as "1001 Nights."

This new take on Scheherazade was written for Josefowicz, with her strength and energy in mind.

"You have to fight," she said in an interview about the upcoming concert.

"This piece is about courage, and standing up and being brave. And holding your ground, and feeling your identity."

RPO Director Ward Stare says this piece is setting the tone for the rest of the season.

"We’re featuring a lot of works that are by female composers, but also themes that celebrate the empowered woman."

Older orchestral standards are still part of the musical mix, but later this season, the RPO will play the world premiere of a new work by an as-yet unidentified "emerging female composer" and then perform "The Mother of Us All," an opera chronicling the life of Susan B. Anthony, with a libretto by Gertrude Stein.

Listen to Classical 91.5 Music Director Julia Figueras' complete interview with Josefowicz and Stare.