Viswa Subbaraman

Opera and Orchestra Conductor

Of Men and Mountains (2 day countdown)

I had an interesting phone interview with Bill Forman from the Colorado Springs Independent to preview my concert with the Colorado Springs Philharmonic. It was a great discussion about music and the CSPO. He did stump me when he asked a great question about what I would add to my program if I were to add a contemporary piece of music. As I said in my blog yesterday, I intentionally did not put a contemporary piece of music on the program because that has been my area of focus for the past four years. My thinking was that the orchestra and administration would automatically assume that I could conduct contemporary music. The question was tough on multiple levels. First, when you put a program together, you try to put together a satisfying program with all the included music. The best comparison is a meal – a great chef would try to put a meal that was satisfying on its own. Once the meal is planned, it’s tough to think of another dish you would add. That was the first challenge – what could I add to my already complete program? The next challenge was trying to think of a piece that would fit the rest of the program. This program is a very European program. An American piece would be perhaps to energetic and colorful. The Beethoven already provides that rhythmic energy. The Tchaikovsky is a romantic masterpiece with heart-on-the-sleeve emotional impact, so adding something of that nature might not work.

I felt like we would need something contemporary but European. The first thoughts that came to mind were Dutilleux and Aarvo Pärt. Part of the reason Pärt came up was because we are thinking of doing one of his pieces on an upcoming Opera Vista performance. So then the thought of rehearsal time came to mind. Dutilleux takes more rehearsal time than Pärt. I also thought that Pärt’s Cantus in Memoriam of Benjamin Britten was a good contrast. There is a solemn, almost sacred feel to that piece. It has a lot of dramatic tension but in a different way from the rest of the program.

So, when you read my answer to that question in the article, you now know why I came up with that idea.