What if I could write a concerto where it is the job of the soloist to support the orchestra as much as the orchestra supports the soloist?
This is the question I asked that led to the creation of Concerto for You. In a typical concerto, the soloist performs with dazzling virtuosity for the audience, while an entire orchestra looks at their back. I wanted to try something different in this piece.
For the orchestra, I chose to work with musicians who haven’t yet made the agreements professional musicians have made — and so I turned to students, and specifically those whose passion for music wasn’t a drive to beat one another out at competitions, but a desire to connect to one another through the very music they played.
As for the soloist — this work wasn’t created for Vijay Gupta; it was created because of him. I have watched him inspire generations of young musicians, not just with his playing, but with his kindness and collegiality, with his openness to new ideas, and with his willingness to listen deeply — even, and especially, when listening means having to rewire his entire conception of something to accomodate a new point of view. A concerto for him would necessarily be a concerto of interaction between musicians who might otherwise never be on a stage together. As with everything he does, this concerto is a musical means to a human and relational end.
I wanted each musician in the orchestra to know that the music on the stand wasn’t their accompaniment part to a concerto meant for a soloist — it was truly for them. So each part bears the title: Concerto for You.
(see video at top of page)
Special Performance Requirements
This piece is specifically designed for a professional violinist to perform with a youth orchestra. Vijay and I have thought deeply about how to structure this concerto, so that the hierarchy between the orchestra and the soloist is broken down.
As important as the performance is (including moving around the stage, sitting in different places etc.), the rehearsal process is even more critical to developing trust and cameraderie with a student orchestra. Guidelines/suggestions for rehearsal and performance will be compiled when this piece is available for performance — but in the meantime, it is important to note that the soloist should aim to have as many rehearsals as possible with the students, including some one-on-one time with the soloists and section leaders. This time is critical to establishing the trust necessary for this experience to feel personal and meaningful.
As we roll out this project to other schools, audio guides are forthcoming.
This piece was commissioned by ARTSpeaks. It was premiered on November 6, 2019 in Naperville, Ill. Featuring Vijay Gupta as the soloist and accompanied by the Neuqua Valley Symphonic Strings directed by Gregory Schwaegler.