Contemporary Classical Music for the 21st Century in Newport

Interview & Review

Lynn Ceglie welcomed the Orchestra on behalf of the Newport City Council

The Newport Contemporary Music Series’ Opening Night Concert at Rogers High School opened new visions into the future of classical composition and performance.  Under the leadership of young Paul Van Anglen, the massive and immensely talented orchestra he has assembled gave a concert full of new ideas, new attitudes, new scorings.

Beginning with a short, ethereal and enchanting work, “Soarin’” by Jerry Goldsmith, which describes in music the exhilaration of flight, the audience was transported. The piano added odd harmonies, the percussion was a bit loud, music swinging to a Latin passage. The work was, well, heavenly.

John & Pamela Hodnett

Premiering a new work by German-American pianist, conductor, and composer André Previn, (winner of four Academy Awards for his film work and ten Grammy Awards for his recordings and one more for his Lifetime Achievement) entitled “Almost An Overture”, scheduled to be attended by the composer The Orchestra did very well without the Mr. Previn, who could not attend.   Paul Van Anglen, who commissioned the work, conducted thoughtfully, drawing immense meaning from the exciting piece.

Jim & Yanni Roehm

The cacophonous and puzzling “Future is a Faded song” by Frenchman Gérard Presson introduced piano soloist Melaine Dalibert, who had little to do but strike keys and chords every now and then. (There was a back up pianist who stroked the strings of her piano’s harp and hit keys occasionally, too.) While the work was modern to a fault, atonal, polytonal,without discernible time signature or melody, and deemed by a professional musician in the audience “gimmicky,” it was a journey into a new realm of composition.

Melaine Dalibert & Paul Van Anglen

After the intermission, the orchestra showed its strengths and versatility in  audience favorites Aaron Copland’s "Appalachian Spring", done beautifully in a moving performance, and George Gershwin’s “Rhapsody in Blue”, opening with the the most spirited clarinet slide ever, the jazzy trumpet joining, whch is such pure Americana, and so familiar (but with a few added touches) that the audience was delighted.  Mr. Dalibert played very well, but used a printed score, which is not generally accepted in Symphony Orchestras (thank Clara Schumann for that.).  The orchestra in this work rather outshone the soloist, the position of the piano contributing.

In general, the modern pieces  suffered slightly from passages that sounded filmic.  With so many talented composers working in films (think John Williams, Ludovic Bource and Alexandre Desplat) composing scores that go into the symphonic realm, it is hard not to compare.  In this performance, the percussion overbalanced the orchestra in spots, with the enormous marching band drum probably substituting for the more traditional kettle drum.

Paul & Steve Van Anglen

Bravo to this fine orchestra, and its Conductor and creator, Newport’s Paul van Anglen, who has brought a new dimension of music to Newport.
We now may have faith that orchestras, audiences and conductors will remain ever young.

                                                           —Linda Phillips, Music Critic

                                                               Greenwich, CT Sentinel

Linda Phillips & Paul Van Anglen


Mr. Van Anglen conducting


Describing the orchestra's mission & Music, Conducror Paul Van Anglen


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