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Our Picks

Sam's Pick: Eleanor Alberga's "Tower"

Creative minds: the Minnesota Orchestra has no shortage. Artistic musicians, a bustling staff, dedicated volunteers, passionate board members and our devoted audience! You'll find a range of expertise amoung us, yet one thing brings us together: music. Personal favorites emerge from many corners—and violist Sam Bergman wants you to know about his spring pick, Tower by Eleanor Alberga. Here's why.

Bergman joined the Orchestra in 2000. During this time, he has not only held it down on the middle notes, served personality as an onstage presence, and delivered his fair share of hot takes (don't ask him about Tchaikovsky)—he has also been an important advocate for performing music by living composers. Along with Susie Park, he helped lead the inception of the Orchestra's Listening Project, an initiative designed to record works by underrepresented composers. Alberga's Tower was among them, and now it will be the centerpiece of concerts the Orchestra performs June 1 and 2

“Eleanor Alberga is the kind of composer whose music jumps straight off the page and into a listener’s heart,” Bergman says of the piece. “Her deep sense of lyricism and particular skill at writing for strings has made her a favorite with chamber ensembles in the United Kingdom and, increasingly, here in the States as well.

Tower, which our orchestra first played and recorded in 2021 as part of the inaugural edition of The Listening Project, is a joy to perform, and feels surprisingly epic for a piece that's only 10 minutes long. It begins with the principal strings of the orchestra in a solo quartet, but then wraps them in the broader sonorities of the full group. Written in memory of David Angel, a dear, departed violinist friend of the composer, it’s also the rare symphonic piece that ends with an audible joke being played either by or on (depending on your perspective) the principal second violin. I can’t wait to share it with our Minnesota audience!”

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