A Post-Gazette staffer, Rosa Colucci, went to the Pittsburgh Symphony's "Tribute: A Symphonic Celebration Of African American Culture" concert last night (Jan. 26) at Heinz Hall featuring trumpeter Sean Jones, on the faculty of Duquesne University, and a new piece by his colleague, composer David Cutler.
She flagged me down today to talk about it with such passion that I had her write something up for Classical Musings. Be wary of your enthusiasm, huh! She also passed on the photo of the percussion set-up for Cutler's piece. Very cool looking. For the sake of full disclosure, Rosa is a good friend of David Cutler:
The real fireworks came when Sean Jones played “Approaching Chiang Mai.” The composition by David Cutler was originally written for wind ensemble and received its orchestral premiere last night. He made full compositional use of all of the instruments available to him and it was glorious.
Cutler describes the piece as a “concerto of sorts... defying categorization combining improvisation and other jazz elements with a multi-layered counterpoint...” Jones soared to new heights as the musical interpretation of the composer’s visit to the ancient Buddhist temple Wat Doi Suthep in Thailand was brought to life in an otherworldly performance, hitting notes that I never thought possible on the instrument.
Principal percussionist Andrew Reamer had a ball of his own on the piece playing a full drum kit that had a full array of tribal looking cymbals including one shaped like a warrior’s breastplate that he struck with his elbow to produce sound and two full lines of pitched cymbals. The eleven-minute piece was dissonant, melodic, grandly symphonic and simply beautiful — and it rightly brought the audience to its feet.