JIJI performs Harp of Nerves, guitar concerto by Hilary Purrington with the ASU Symphony Orchestra and Conductor Jeffery Meyer. This comes via JIJI’s amazing YouTube Channel. The concerto was commissioned by American Composers Orchestra (Paul and Michelle Underwood and additional support from the Virginia B. Toulmin Foundation). The world premiere was November 13th 2019 at Zankel Hall/Carnegie Hall with American Composers Orchestra and conductor George Manahan.
This is one of the best new music commissions I’ve heard for classical guitar in a long time. Fantastic playing and engaging music as expected from JIJI’s projects. Her playing is top notch and her musicality is perfectly crafted. There are some exquisite moments of beauty and brilliant orchestration by Purrington. I love that yearning moment around 6:00 in the video. The guitar integrates into the texture really nicely, it sounds natural and at home but never cliché. This is a spectacular new work and significant contribution to the guitar concerto repertoire.
As Hilary Purrington writes about the concerto:
I composed Harp of Nerves over the course of eighteen months. Before writing a single note, I carefully considered the relationship between the solo guitar and the larger ensemble, knowing that this decision would determine much of the work’s musical and dramatic content. Throughout the concerto’s three movements, the orchestra serves as an extension of the guitar. Sometimes the connection between the soloist and ensemble is immediately obvious; other times, it’s less so. This relationship also inspired the title – the entire ensemble becomes a kind of nervous system with the soloist acting as its control center, tethered to all members of the orchestra. Imagining the ensemble in this manner determined many of my artistic choices and helped shape the larger character of the work.