Towards a 21st century orchestral canon

jk, canon is deeply problematic as a concept etc etc


  1. It began with a not-so-shocking discovery: Andrew Norman's "Play" might just be the best large-scale orchestral work of our still-young century.
  2. Andrew Norman - Play: Level 1 (2013)
  3. (Be sure to read the excellent liner notes for "Play" by @linernotesdanny as well as Norman's own comments)
  4. Please note the late-night time stamps and my own general ignorance of this repertoire.
  5. But: my suspicions were confirmed, seemingly, by the Great Adjudicating Forces of the Classical Music Twittersphere
  6. Which begged an additional question:
  7. Here's the thing: orchestral works that are large-scale – as in more than, let's say arbitrarily, 30 minutes – are a seeming rarity in the 21st century. It's due to the commissioning process: very few orchestras are going to take a risk and commission a very large work simply for orchestra. So most purely orchestral commissions, in the U.S. at least, are 5-25 minutes, depending on the type of commission, or you get your bigger chorus-vocal-soloists cantata thing which will ground half or all of your program (and, potentially, get staged as an opera too).
  8. But what might be left out out, then, is the opportunity for composers to write the instrumental symphony of our day. Or something like that.
  9. So, responses to my query, with links when available (and not all responses were for 30+ minute orchestral pieces, but hey, here's some stuff to listen to):