CSO Music Now Review – Spring or Some Such Thing

The MusicNOW series is curated by Mead Composers-in-Residence Samuel Adams and Elizabeth Oganek


Samuel Adams and Elizabeth Ogonek introduced the three works that they had selected for this May performance as ones tied into the topic of nature.  


These three works included:  “Intent on Resurrection—Spring or Some Such Thing” by Clara Iannotta (2014); “Wald” by Hans Abrahamsen (2009); and “Waterlines” by Christopher Trapani (2005/2012). 


Composers Iannotta and Trapani were in the Harris Theater to hear this performance of their works.  Abrahamsen’s presence was via a Skype interview and film footage of his Danish surrounds.


Clara Iannotta


Iannotta’s video introduction should be of interest to every parent who nurtures fantasies of their child going to Harvard and being recognized as a genius like Iannotta.  She described her unusual upbringing in a home sans computer, toys, TV, etc.  This trained her to build her own objects for amusement and a mental image one couldn’t help but return to listening to this work.  Both audio and visuals were of dust—with the strings ever so lightly making small sounds akin to sitting in a remote warehouse and listening to imagined insect polkas.   


Turn your speakers WAY UP and listen to a previous recording of this piece on Youtube here—



“Wald”, in the context of this concert, seemed to continue the conversation that Iannotta had started, saying “Let’s add the winds and brass now”.  The hook to nature seemed clear later in the score when the music picked up tempo evoking images of ice breaking away from a glacier in a thaw.


Hans Abrahamsen


You can hear a Youtube recording of Abrahamsen explaining  how this work is about being cold in the forest when it debuted at the BBC Proms in 2010—


Trapani’s “Waterlines” is four songs inspired both by Hurricane Katrina and historic floods during the composer’s grandmother’s time that were interpreted by award-winning soprano Tony Arnold


Soprano Tony Arnold. Photo: Claudia Hansen


Based on Southern music (The Carter Family, Bessie Smith, Lonnie Johnson and more) each of the songs became more abstract in succession, though the texts in the program allowed us to follow along.


Christopher Trapani. Photo: Esin Pektas


The small orchestra ensemble for all of these pieces includes members of the CSO and other local musicians under the baton of Cliff Colnot


We mistakenly thought this was another instrument innovation from the CSO musician whose new instruments have been featured in other MusicNOW performances. This Stroh Violin is much older, but nonetheless extraordinary in using a metal horn to resonate the sounds instead of the violin's wooden chamber


A big hit was made by the unusual Stroh Violin played by Carol Cook in “Waterlines”.


The next and last MusicNow performance of this season will be on June 6 and will include several vocal works and an experiment with a new format that puts the usual pizza/beer party in the middle of the program, instead of the conclusion.


For tickets or information visit the CSO website or call the box office at 312-294-3000.


Event location:

Harris Theater

205 E Randolph St

Chicago, IL


Photos courtesy of Chicago Symphony Orchestra, unless otherwise indicated

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