So Neustadter, the 29-year-old Wisconsin native quickly making a name for himself in Hollywood music circles, went to work composing a new piece of orchestra music, “Toward Glory,” that will serve as the finale for the Rochester symphony’s upcoming “Gloria!” concerts.
This is the second time Neustadter has written a commissioned piece for the orchestra; the first was for the orchestra’s concert in tribute to Sendai, Japan, in 2012.
“For me, it’s a huge asset knowing some of the players, the conductor, knowing what kind of sound they have,” Neustadter said. With that in mind, Neustadter has composed a relatively short (about six minutes) piece that slowly builds to a hopefully glorious ending.
“The piece starts very quietly, and then things start to happen,” said Jere Lantz, RSOC conductor.
Neustadter and Lantz share a connection to Yale, where both earned graduate degrees in music, although several decades apart. “He’s a very mature composer and he hasn’t turned 30 yet,” Lantz said of Neustadter.
The young composer is working on classical pieces, film music and commercials— the background music in the Progressive Insurance commercials is his — as well as performing with the Los Angeles Opera Chorus and the Master Chorale. He won an Emmy Award for his music for the PBS American Masters documentary “John Muir in the New World.”
The orchestra had a first go at “Toward Glory” at last Sunday’s rehearsal. Neustadter was sending parts via email during the session. “It was exhilarating,” Lantz said.
The concert takes its theme from two pieces of music called “Gloria.” The first is by Vivaldi, written in the 1700s, but only discovered in the 20th century. “It was found in a box of paper in a library in Venice,” Lantz said. The first full performance came in 1956, and the piece quickly became a favorite of school and church choirs.
The second “Gloria,” by Francis Poulenc, takes the same text, but a different musical direction. The piece was premiered in 1961 in Boston, as a tribute to John F. Kennedy on the day of his inauguration as president.
For both “Gloria” pieces, soloists will come from the symphony chorale, rather than from hired guests. “It shows the quality of people we have here,” Lantz said.
Opening the concert will be the upbeat “Courtly Dances” from “Gloriana,” written by Benjamin Britten for the coronation of Queen Elizabeth II.
What: “Gloria!” by the Rochester Symphony Orchestra & Chorale
When: 7:30 p.m. Saturday March 12, 2 p.m. Sunday March 13
Where: Lourdes High School auditorium
Tickets: $30, $20 for adults, $5 for youth