A New Artistic Director for Philadelphia's New Music Ensemble, Orchestra 2001

Oct 24, 2016

Orchestra 2001 didn't fade away when its founder and director James Freeman announced his departure two years ago after 26 years at its helm. The Philadelphia Inquirer's David Patrick Stearns reports that the Swarthmore College professor's replacement, Jayce Ogren, has — in the three months since his appointment — devised plans to make the contemporary music ensemble ubiquitous.

It's very important to me...to be a guide to the world of contemporary music. -Jayce Ogren

David Patrick Stearns: So much for the notion that you need inside connections to get anywhere in Philadelphia. Brooklyn-based Jayce Ogren answered an ad for the artistic directorship of Orchestra 2001. As it turns out, everybody was on the same page, maybe on the same paragraph, with thoughts about using venues in unlikely locations such as Manayunk and with outdoor performances of major works by living composers. And Ogren, a triathlete, will even be seen in the forthcoming Philadelphia Marathon.

Jayce Ogren: We really would like to expand our presence throughout the season, through what we're dubbing right now microconcerts. So, the idea being that there's something going on with Orchestra 2001 every month and sometimes it'll just be maybe a solo recital, sometimes it will be a quartet, sometimes of course it'll be larger programs, but not every organization would be up for this. I just got the feeling that they didn't just want the status quo.

DPS: Who is this guy who is doing so much so quickly? Ogren is from a small logging town in Washington state. He learned conducting partly by assisting Franz Welser-Möst in Cleveland, was music director of the New York City Opera prior to its collapse, and filled in for ailing James Levine at the Boston Symphony. He has also conducted My Fair Lady in Paris, and the opera Prima Donna by pop star Rufus Wainwright. That doesn't mean Ogren's programs will be light and poppy. He believes they can groove.

JO: For me, it's not about treating it as something different... making a phrase, finding the tempo, locking it in and giving yourself over to it.

DPS: The centerpiece of his Friday and Saturday concerts is something titled Body Music by Sebastian Currier, utilizing sounds recorded from the human body.

JO: In this piece, I think he explores this tremendous range of what's possible now. This is not something that's necessarily abstract or unrelatable; here's an idea or a feeling or an action you can relate to. Now, listen to how this incredible composer paints it.

DPS: So often, I listen to modern music knowing it's good for me, like learning to speak Lithuanian. But here, Orchestra 2001 is out to hit closer to home. This may just be about...me.