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The Empire State Youth Orchestra commissions a new work, and explores reciprocity and community with the Fireworks Ensemble.

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Empire State Youth Orchestras (ESYO) will commission Fireworks Ensemble’s music director Brian Coughlin to create a new concerto grosso-style work to act as the focal point of a three-day residency with ESYO and schools from upstate New York’s Capital Region, focused on the idea of “playing together.” Through workshops, rehearsals, and a final public performance, students will collaborate with Fireworks Ensemble to explore how diverse musical styles and textures require different ways of listening and communicating. Over the course of the residency, students will learn how to approach their playing creatively, to take risks and ownership of their musical choices, to express themselves more freely, and to embrace the joy in making music with others.

The new 20-30 minute work will be a concerto grosso-style piece featuring the six members of Fireworks in musical conversation with both a small ripieno group of ESYO musicians, and with the full Youth Orchestra. Consistent with Fireworks Ensemble’s vision of contemporary chamber music and Brian Coughlin’s previous body of work for the ensemble, the piece will embrace the a wide stylistic palette and will explore the various ways in which musicians relate to one another in both different musical styles (composed concert music, improvised music, popular music) and in a variety of musical contexts (chamber music, solo playing, orchestral playing, and improvisation). Integral to the work will be solo and group improvisation and an exploration of the interplay between composed and improvised music.

Most recently Fireworks education programs have focused on two types of activities: workshops that demonstrate the group’s unique, creative approach to a very wide range of styles and periods; and side-by-side performances with orchestras and bands using level-appropriate repertoire. InterPlay will combine both types of activities by creating a new work that will, for the first time, allow students to have both the experience of playing alongside Fireworks in a collaborative setting, and also allow them to be directly involved in the playing styles, solo- and group improvisation techniques, and the art of creative collaboration that the ensemble brings to its repertoire.

Workshops at elementary, middle, and high schools in NY’s Capital Region (taking place between February 9-11, 2017) will use the new, commissioned work as a starting point for an interactive exploration of musical communication and collaboration, and as an introduction to a variety of improvisation approaches. Rehearsals and the final pubic performance on February 11, 2017, will allow ESYO musicians to showcase the skills they have learned over the course of the residency in a collaborative public performance for a general audience with Fireworks Ensemble.

ESYO is committed to supporting the creation of new music and collaborating with living composers. In recent years, ESYO has commissioned and performed works by Samuel Adler, Clint Needham, Ney Rosaro, Hilary Tann, and Bill Cunliffe, among others. The InterPlay project is particularly exciting, as it will provide ESYO musicians the opportunity to actively engage in the music-making process with a dynamic group of seasoned performers.

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One response to “InterPlay”

  1. warren crowell says:

    I applaud the works of the Fireworks Ensemble! With the removal of the Arts in our educational institutions over the past thirty years it’s refreshing to see people putting this type of activity together and enacting it!

    December Proposal Holiday
    Madison, WI

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Project Details

Start and End Date

02/09/2017 - 02/11/2017


Schenectady, New York

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Empire State Youth Orchestras

Schenectady, New York

As the premier music organization for youth in the greater Capital Region of New York State, Empire State Youth Orchestras (ESYO) has offered an enriching education and performance program for talented young musicians for 37 years. Started as a single orchestra in 1979, today’s ESYO consists of 9 performing groups and CHIME, a sistema-inspired community...


Brian Coughlin

New York, New York

Role: Composer in Residence

Fireworks Ensemble

New York, New York

Role: Artists in Residence

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