REVIEW: Season opening highlights composers’ creativity

By Jennifer Hambrick / For The Columbus Dispatch

“Creativity is as much about the enjoyment of the creative process as it is about the final result. ProMusica Chamber Orchestra’s 2017-2018 opening night, last night at the Southern Theatre, was a celebration of “breaking the mold.”

Composer and pianist Conrad Tao joined the orchestra for a third opening night, his previous two having been as a child in 2007 and 2008. Last night marked the world premiere of Tao’s “Over,” a work commissioned by ProMusica.

“Over” is Tao’s exploration into three definitions of this common, but often overlooked, word. As a composer, he eschews arcane intellectualism and formality, preferring the thrill of curiosity and exploration to the certitude of rules.

In characteristic fashion, then, he opens the piece with an ending, a collapse of percussive chords and moans that point toward finality. The second movement erupts into plaintive swirls from the strings and discordant growls from the winds, ominous knocks and eerie harmonics, striving to rise above some invisible threshold, but failing. The third movement, a “study in excess,” is a whimsical conversation between piano and orchestra, brash and witty.”

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