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My two most recent posts have been about orchestras that specialize in performing contemporary music, ACO and BMOP.  In keeping with that theme, I thought I should also say a few things about the new contemporary music series by the New York Philharmonic, called CONTACT! (I know, I know – that concert was a couple months ago – what can I say, I’m a slacker.) In Music Director Alan Gilbert’s first press conference, he highlighted his plans for a New York Philharmonic new music ensemble this season, and as it turns out, this isn’t just a new music ensemble playing the past century’s greatest hits: they are performing seven pieces by seven composers, all of which are world premieres.  Not bad, Mr. Gilbert.  Not bad at all.

Strictly speaking, the December CONTACT! concert was not a full orchestra performance, but more of the Sinfonietta variety.  Basically one of every instrument represented on most pieces.  I don’t really want to talk about the pieces, but you can find out more about the program and the upcoming April concert here.  I really just want to give a tip-of-the-hat to the New York Philharmonic and other established orchestral organizations like the San Francisco Symphony, St. Louis Symphony, and I’m sure others, for not just recognizing the importance of bringing bloggers in to the concert hall, but also for realizing that blogs are not going away and are worth their attention.  This CONTACT! concert was the first time the New York Philharmonic invited bloggers to a performance and hopefully they will continue to do it in the future.  It goes without saying that they should do this again for the next CONTACT! performance, but it would be great to see the Philharmonic begin inviting bloggers to regular subscription concerts as well.  Here is a link to all of the other blog entries that were written following the December concert by twelve people who were obviously NOT slackers.

Finally, I love that the New York Philharmonic New Music Ensemble (is that really their name or can the ensemble have a shorter, snappier name?) is performing in some different locations around town.  Each of these CONTACT! concerts are being performed once at the Metropolitan Museum of Art and once at Symphony Space.  I have to wonder, though, if there is a better location than Symphony Space.  I appreciate that they may be making an effort to get away from the Lincoln Center campus, but if the renovated Alice Tully Hall is cool enough and hip enough for Alarm Will Sound, ICE, the Bang on a Can All-Stars and the Ensemble Intercontemporain, then isn’t it cool enough and hip enough for the Philharmonic New Music Ensemble?  And, wouldn’t the sound be so much better there?

In the end I think that the Philharmonic, Alan Gilbert, and composer-in-residence Magnus Lindberg should be congratulated on this new (and I’m sure somewhat scary or uncertain) venture.  I look forward to the April performance and especially to what they have in mind for the ’10-’11 season.