In conjunction with its upcoming American premiere of James MacMillan’s St. John Passion, the Boston Symphony Orchestra has added a new segment to “Classical Companion,” its online educational program. The segment launches on January 19 and includes an “ornamentation music lab,” an interactive module that allows visitors to explore decorative ornamentation of melodies and themes—via ornamented and plain passages from MacMillan’s score. Users will be able to ornament a melody in a variety of ways and listen to the different effects created. The new “Companion” also includes interviews with MacMillan and with composers John Harbison and Osvaldo Golijov, produced by the London Symphony Orchestra (which co-commissioned the St. John Passion) and the Netherlands television program Het Gesprek. Previous programs in the “Classical Companion” series, launched in 2007, have been devoted to Verdi’s Simon Boccanegra, Charles Ives’s Symphony No. 4, and to new compositions by John Harbison, Henri Dutilleux, Elliott Carter, and William Bolcom. The BSO reports that its “Classical Companion” linked to a complete Beethoven symphony cycle in fall 2009 had 148,000 visitors.

Posted January 19, 2010