I just got back from Philadelphia, where I saw a rehearsal of Gerald Levinson’s “Toward the Light” for organ and orchestra. It’s a great piece being played by great orchestra featuring a great organist.
For the most part, I find organ and orchestra to be incompatible, but Levinson navigates this problem deftly. At times the work seemed like a piece for orchestra and electronics, or organ and electronics, with one monster being the ghost of the other. The use of color (Levinson’s specialty) was not only interesting but also meticulously crafted. Timbre changes were paced the way romantic composers might have paced harmonic rhythm, providing a sense of direction and destination to an otherwise atmospheric, yet intense, work.
Afterwards, I had coffee with the ever-passionate Eric Bruskin, and the extremely amicable Jim Jordon. We discussed acoustics, Taoism, music education, and professional dancers’ abilities in fist-fighting. It was a good time.