What if there was a concerto where the job of the soloist was to support the orchestra as much as the orchestra supported the soloist?
This is the question 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 sits in the background, staring at their back. I wanted to try something different in this piece.
For this experiment to work, I wanted to find musicians who hadn’t yet experienced a traditional concerto setting, and hadn’t yet made the agreements professional musicians have made — and so I turned to students, and specifically those for whom music was a passion, a means for connection rather than competition.
This work was built with violinist Vijay Gupta. I have watched him inspire so many young musicians, not just with his playing, but with his kindness and collegiality, with his curiosity and openness, and with his willingness to listen deeply. Our joint vision for this concerto was to create a musical means to a human and relational end.
As this work moves into the hands of other professional violinists, building relationships with student ensembles, I wanted each musician in the orchestra to start from the assumption that the music on the stand wasn’t their accompaniment part to a concerto meant for a star soloist — it was truly for them. And so, at the top of each part is written: “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.