As a fellow composer, I agree it is important to do justice to an underrepresented era of 20th century music. Its clear the author hadnt done his homework before writing. Out of 15 pieces performed by the St. Olaf Orchestra this year, 11 were written in the 20th century, and seven in the last 50 years. Had he talked to orchestra members, he would know that our two feature pieces on the Senior Soloists concert are Short Ride in a Fast Machine, by John Adams (1986) and Rage, a piece of mine (2005). Were playing student works at a rate topped only by the St. Olaf Band hardly a stuffy old orchestra.
By both implicitly claiming to represent the concertgoers while expressing his biased opinion, the author discredits himself as a music critic. His words, like weak and wimped out, are in contrast to the praise I have received from over 40 professors, administrators and students. The author was obviously in a minority of concertgoers that left with a funny taste in their mouth.
The authors description of Hands as fluff is frustrating. This senior percussion section flawlessly performed a unique work with only their bodies. Hands is an innovative, highly musical piece, not just a crowd-pleaser. We strings played a corny fiddling tune. So what?
Its true we had one week less to prepare than usual only a month for one of the most difficult programs the orchestra has ever attempted. This had nothing to do with Senior Soloists, but a lack of personnel during Interim, Christmas Festival and Oratorio obligations. As principal bassist, I can assure you that the orchestra was prepared. That we took on such difficult music in such a short time and played such a great concert is heroic.
Matthew Peterson 06