Music: Where the New Action Is

Orchestral premieres highlight an eclectic trend in composing

A major opera premiere may draw international critical attention, but the real action in new music is found on the local front. After all, many more U.S. cities have orchestras than have opera companies, and the average music lover's exposure to contemporary music comes most often in the concert hall. A cluster of new works performed around the country this past month shows that a stylistic eclecticism is the rage in composition these days, with composers paying homage to sources as disparate as James Joyce, J.S. Bach, the Statue of Liberty and the Brooklyn Bridge.

Coincidentally, two pieces inspired by Joyce's...

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