In Saturday’s (6/5) Atlanta Journal-Constitution, Pierre Ruhe writes, “When the Atlanta Symphony Orchestra performs world premieres by its so-called ‘Atlanta school of composers,’ the audience’s reactions are often as interesting as the works themselves. Conductor Robert Spano and the orchestra commissioned new music from Jennifer Higdon (who lives in Philadelphia) and Michael Gandolfi (from Boston) and played them side by side Thursday, finishing the evening with Mozart’s Symphony No. 39. Over recent years, Higdon and Gandolfi (and a couple of other composers) have enjoyed a regular presence in Symphony Hall. … But Higdon’s ‘On a Wire’—showy, exuberant, beautifully crafted—aroused so many of the audience’s hot spots across its 22 minutes that the crowd was prepared to cheer before it was over. At the climactic rush and the thwack of the bass drum at the end, the audience erupted, hollered, stood, smiled, laughed with communal euphoria and—this is key—gave the petite Higdon, when she walked to center stage, the loudest and lustiest ovation of all. … Gandolfi’s 25-minute ‘Q.E.D.: Engaging Richard Feynman’ was fun, mild and slight. It’s a quirky homage to the eccentric physicist, a Nobel Prize winner who has become a pop icon.”

Posted June 7, 2010