“Tchaikovsky’s Fifth Symphony is one of those pieces which leaves an incredible impression the first time you hear it, and even more so the first time you perform it. I think for most musicians and especially conductors, this piece becomes one of those old friends we carry with us our whole lives. I first conducted this piece in 2009 during my first conducting workshop as a student––in Bacau, Romania. Then again in Montréal with the orchestra from the Akademisches Orchester from Zurich, Switzerland. Then again in Colorado, the Czech Republic and then with the Vancouver Symphony Orchestra in Canada. Each time you revisit this piece you find new perspectives and meaning––but the overarching feeling I have for this work is a feeling of longing. A painful and passionate longing for something which is very hard to achieve, omnipresent in this work, coupled with a theme of ‘fate’ which can often be found in Tchaikovsky’s music. Whether or not there is a true triumph at the end is up for debate!
Oiseaux bleus et sauvages (Wild Bluebirds) has become a recent favorite of mine, and I have performed it this season in Elgin, Illinois and Lima, Ohio. The composer Jocelyn Morlock is a friend, and we both live walking distance from the old growth forests of British Columbia. You can hear this piece any way you like, but it reminds me of walking through a forest filled with birds. Each bird has its own fragmentary song––some short and some long––and some even alter their song based on what other birds are singing. Walking through that world creates an ever-shifting tapestry of sound as the birdsongs emerge, overlap, and fade into the distance, and that’s exactly the musical effect in this piece.”
– Conductor Andrew Crust