From eighteen years worth of experience with the new music ensemble Orchestra 2001 (1988-2006), Lois Bliss Herbine has worked closely with 20th and 21st Century composers such as Tan Dun, Gunther Schuller, George Rochberg, Peter Schickele and Andrea Clearfield. As Herbine's performances on solo flute and piccolo are known for their colorful expression (as are those of her colleagues pianist Charles Abramovic, harpist Sophie Bruno, flutist Pamela Guidetti, and cellist Lori Barnett) these details are evident in the reviews, especially within the smaller chamber ensemble.
Solo Flute with Orchestra 2001 on Tan Dun's Concerto for Pizzicato Piano and Ten Instruments and piccolo on Tan Dun's Circle With Four Trios, Conductor and Audience (Philadelphia Premieres)
"Making music with water plus audience 'twitter' and shouts"
- Peter Dobrin, The Philadelphia Inquirer, September 20, 2005
Tan is a curator of sound, and his atmospheres are immediately likable -misty, vaguely Eastern, seemingly stream-of-consciousness His Concerto for Pizzicato Piano and Ten Instruments, also given its Philadelphia premiere in these concerts with pianist Margearet Leng Tan (perhaps better known as the toy-piano player), is similarly mood enhancing...Much of Tan Dun's success has to do with manipulating another volatile element: the audience. The piece in question, Circle With Four Trios, Conductor and Audience, was given it's local premiere at Swarthmore College by Orchestra 2001 (after a performance Saturday at the University of Pennsylvania)...If there is a more sly way of engaging an audience than to give it a listening test, I haven't seen it. The theater of putting players out in the audience didn't hurt, either.
Solo Flute with Orchestra 2001 on Melinda Wagner's Whirl's End for eleven players (World Premiere)
"Orchestra 2001 premieres works by Melinda Wagner and Adam Wernick"
- Daniel Webster, The Philadelphia Inquirer, April 12, 2005
Do composers now get more from less? Small ensembles seem more and more luxuriant as unusual instruments and techniques expand their possibilities. Employing 11 musicians, Orchestra 2001 demonstrated what rich worlds a few instrumentalists can evoke when it performed (a) premiere by Melinda Wagner... (Her)Whirl's End evoked outdoor images, and managed something avoided by many composers - a truly slow tempo. How extraordinary to hear music emerge and evolve so expansively. Harp and percussion added mystery and evocative images to unhurried recollection of an imagined place.
Solo Flute (Alto Flute and Piccolo) with Orchestra 2001 on Andrea Clearfield's The Long Bright (World Premiere)
"The Music Report: Classical music reinvents its relevance to times"
- David Patrick Stearns, The Philadelphia Inquirer, May 23, 2004
Orchestra 2001 premiered the cantata last month...Some say this is one of the best pieces written recently by a Philadelphia composer. I agree, but listening to it on an archival tape at home, I particularly missed the audience group-experience, as I do with Britten's undeniably great War Requiem.
Solo Flute with Orchestra 2001 on Robert Sierra's Cancionero Sefardi for soprano and five instruments
"Orchestra 2001 'Latin Masterpieces' Concert"
- Daniel Webster, The Philadelphia Inquirer, March 20, 2004
In Sierra's Cancionero Sefardi, (soprano Jody Karin Applebaum) sang against microtonal instrumental lines, illuminating the cross-references of Latin tradition and the ancient Jewish song style. The ensemble of flute, piano, clarinet, violin and cello built clouds of sound. Against those undulating tones, Applebaum revealed humor, sensuality and playfulness."
Solo Flute (Alto Flute and Piccolo) with Orchestra 2001 on Chen Yi's Sparkle for eight players
"Chinese Visions", Trinity Center, Philadelphia
- Deborah Kravetz, Penn Sounds, March 28, 2003
Representing nature, the piece by Chen Yi, Sparkle (1992), has a shimmer of violin, swirling flute and marimba whipping around light as a zephyr, fading to faint marimba, percussion and string plucks. It's a chilly spring wind with bird calls; a spring thunderstorm passes through and, when the air clears, the birds return and a stream burbles briskly.
Solo Flute with Orchestra 2001 on Finko's Harp Concerto and Corigliano's 1993 Variations
"Celestial Turnings - new yet familiar - debuts"
- David Patrick Stearns, The Philadelphia Inquirer, January 29, 2003
Finko's ultra-virtuosic work - gamely performed by the Philadelphia Orchestra harpist Elizabeth Hainen with any number of unconventional rhythmic and articulation effects - is in the polystylistic mode of Alfred Schnittke, though without that composer's black-on-black depressiveness. Finko's shards of music, seemingly snatched from different pieces on different centuries, have more light and shade, but are curiously vague in their expressive inferences. Then you see that the piece dates from 1976 - the early maturity of this now 66-year-old composer. That explains a lot.
Corigliano's 1993 Variations, written for guest soloist Sharon Isbin, os a time-warp melding of the composer's 20th-century harmonies and a 12th-century troubadour melody. Amid novel effects like an offstage wind band, the piece also has integrity, an interior balance of invention, logic, and drama - the climax is fabulously apocalyptic - that make it a miniature opera without words.
Piccolo with Orchestra 2001 on Gunther Schuller's Concerto da Camara (World Premiere)
"Orchestra 2001 brings Schuller concerto into full bloom"
- Peter Dobrin, The Philadelphia Inquirer, April 2, 2002
Schuller's work for small orchestra is a small gem. Schuller subtracted horns, bassoons and clarinets for his piece, which he said limited his color spectrum, in painter terms, to only black, grey and blue-green. We can dismiss as mere modesty the idea that Schuller was color-challenged. The mood may be generally gray, especially in the first half, but Concerto da Camera is about the world of full color. The composer-conductor gets an astonishing array of sounds from a small orchestra, and even though the piece eliminates some of the orchestra's more resonant voices, there's an awful lot of glow in it...
Flute and piccolo with Orchestra 2001 on Lutoslawski's Venetian Games and solo flute on Gorecki's Symphony No.3
"Orchestra 2001 Impresses Again"
- Peter Dobrin, Philadelphia Inquirer, March 4, 2002
With the Labeque sisters taking a swipe at Berio in the big hall, and Orchestra 2001 doing a quite credible job with Lutoslawski's Venetian Games in the small hall, all the Kimmel Center needed Saturday night was a little Xenakis playing in the basement and Philadelphia's new arts center might have been mistaken for Paris or Darmstadt.
An exaggeration, but only a small one, since Orchestra 2001 has had a lot to do with the city's evolving sophistication with contemporary music. The ensemble's director, James Freeman, has a canny way of finding holes in the local music scene that didn't seem to exist until the ensemble came along to plug them with invigorating programs. Saturday night's program of works by four Polish composers gave us Gorecki's Symphony No. 3, that soulful work from 1976 that lay relatively out of listening range until the 1990s, when a recording unexpectedly sold more than a million copies...Soprano Maureen O'Flynn was soloist. Her philosophy is from the school of greater vulnerability which gave this performance an admirable delicacy.
Flute with Orchestra 2001 on Mahler’s Das Lied Von Der Erde
"Soul and rebirth from Orchestra 2001"
- Peter Dobrin, The Philadelphia Inquirer, February 4, 2002
It wasn’t technical perfection. But there was something better about Orchestra 2001’s first concert at the Kimmel Center for the Performing Arts - it had soul… even if judging from no other gauge than a few moist-eyed members of the audience.
This transcription was started by Schoenberg and completed by Riehn… (it) suceed(s) in the famous last movement, “The Farewell”, in layering on the music a sense of serene solitude in the face of death that the orchestral version does not.
Second Flute with Orchestra 2001 on Christopher Rouse's Guitar Concerto and solo flute on Rodrigo's Concierto de Aranjuez
"Emotional essence in guitar concerto"
- David Patrick Stearns,The Philadelphia Inquirer, September 24, 2001
(Christopher Rouse's) Concert de Gaudi for guitar and orchestra, as heard in its Philadelphia premiere performed by its muse, guitarist Sharon Isbin, and Orchestra 2001, merely has kinder, gentler shock effects (as compared to heavy-metal band muse Led Zeppelin). Their model used by the Pulitzer Prize-winning Rouse is Joaquin Rodrigo's flamenco-steeped, sun-baked nature studies in his ever-popular Concierto de Aranjuez (which was also on Saturday's program at the Trinity Center). Like Igor Stravinsky in his neoclassical period, Rouse borrows a foreign musical language with enriching conviction - although, because it's still Rouse, those musical landscapes may have a nuclear-power plant appearing out of nowhere. Such non sequiturs invade guiltlessly, though in the second movement they're hallucinatory in their dreaminess. All of that, plus the music's considerable emotional weight, convinces you that this concerto is a keeper. 2001's conductor James Freeman, even improved on Isbin's Teldec recording by finding greater unity in a score that can seem to lash out in a few too many directions.
Piccolo with Orchestra 2001 on Verese's Integrales
"Mixed works, results from Mendelssohn Club, Orchestra 2001"
- David Patrick Stearns,The Philadelphia Inquirer, May 7, 2001
No such problems visited the Freeman-conducted Integrales, a bracing, wide-reaching mass of orchestral sound incorporating marches and jazz with reckless asymmetry.
- Lou Camp, City Paper, May 17, 2001
James Freeman conducted his superb Orchestra 2001 in the instrumental Varese and Finko pieces. All hands are to be thanked for this fine concert, and the large audience gave generous approval.
Piccolo with Orchestra 2001 on Mahler's Forth symphony
"Orchestra 2001 Plumbs the Emotional Depths of Mahler's Forth"
- David Patrick Stearns, The Philadelphia Inquirer, February 17, 2001
Some of the most revelatory Mahler performances these days are coming from outside the usual Vienna-Amsterdam-New York Philharmonic loop... Without the Vienna Philharmonic's sheen, Mahler's sunniest symphony was more transparent, less monumental and more eventful...in the third movement (the symphony's emotional center of gravity) the interpretation opened up deeper, expresive worlds, providing a clear, emotional bridge to the final movement's ascension to heaven. Early-music soprano, Julianne Baird was a good choice for the fourth movement's folk-poem setting...
Second flute with Orchestra 2001 on Maurice Delage's Four Hindu Poems
"East meets West via Orchestra 2001"
- Daniel Webster, The Philadelphia Inquirer, November 14, 2000
(Soprano Sheryl) Woods opened the program with Delage's Quatre poemes hindous. Written in 1912, the music evokes the East of silks and spices, and the small orchestra imitated Indian instrumental sounds. The atmospheres were rich and Woods moved her sumptuous voice through the intervals with such security that her singing implied theatrical scenes and mysteries.
Solo Flute and Alto Flute with Orchestra 2001 on Andrea Clearfield's Awake at Dawn (World Premiere)
"New music abrim with loveliness"
- Peter Dobrin, The Philadelphia Inquirer, May 16, 2000
Andrea Clearfield composed a sweet exoticism... I loved both works. Clearfield's is a result of a commission from the Pew Charitable Trusts' Philadelphia Music Project, and, punctuated by harp swoops, bells and chimes, was as atmospheric as a stress-relieving bath.
Piccolo with Orchestra 2001 on David Crumb's Variations for Cello and Chamber Orchestra
"Orchestra 2001 picks a winner for cello"
"David Crumb's Variations for Cello and Chamber Orchestra conveys a gripping sound world."
- Lesley Valdes, The Philadelphia Inquirer, February 9, 1999
Variations conveys so particular and gripping a sound world one is hardly aware of the time passing... Momentum builds, and suddenly there's a burst of percussion and woodwinds, a clamoring chaos that suggests Stravinsky's Petrushka. It's a wonderful moment because it catches us by surprise. Up to this happy climax, the music has sounded gravely searching...
Solo Flute, Alto Flute and Piccolo with Orchestra 2001 on Whitman's Opera, The Black Swan (World Premiere)
"Thomas Mann Novella debuts as Chamber Opera"
- Lesley Valdes, The Philadelphia Inquirer, September 14, 1998
Whitman was exceedingly fortunate to have his first opera staged by Sarah Caldwell, longtime opera producer and colleague to Orchestra 2001 founder James Freeman, who conducted his 15 instrumentalists with assurance in music that includes an ardent cello solo, woodwinds, harp, chimes and keyed percussion.
- Robert Baxter, Opera News
The large audience in the Lang Performing Arts Center greeted the world premiere of The Black Swan with a stirring ovation. Composer Thomas Whitman deserved the applause. He knows how to write dramatic music that soars into lyrical melodies, filled with allusive atmosphere and rich emotional textures. James Freeman led an urgently controlled musical performance and drew refined playing from Orchestra 2001.
Solo Flute on Rochberg's Chamber Symphony
"Orchestra 2001 honors Rochberg"
- Daniel Webster, The Philadelphia Inquirer, March 21, 1998
Both (Rochberg) works are much larger than their forces would suggest. The Chamber Symphony develop(ed) tightly formed ideas through broad sonorities and intriguing rhythms, weaving them in canon form into pieces of monumental stature. This work speaks so clearly and directly to the listeners, declaring its novelty while holding to traditional forms, that it sound like a new letter from an old friend. Scored for three strings and six winds, the work seems now the essence of clear argument. The thematic ideas are clear, potent and evocative, and their evolution has the excitement of inevitability.
"I've never heard my Chamber Symphony played better"
- George Rochberg, March 21, 1998
Solo Flute with Orchestra 2001 on Gubaidalina's Introitus (American Premiere)
"Orchestra 2001 at Swarthmore"
- Daniel Webster, The Philadelphia Inquirer, February 21, 1998
Her piece incorporated moaning microtones, long slides in the strings, solemn drumming bass notes in the piano, and repeated short motifs in the strings and winds.
The piano (Susan Starr)was not placed in a virtuoso role, but seemed to be the voice of the chief priest in this ceremonial progress. The music grew in its sonorities, reached a moment when the pianist clutched a big moment at the extreme ends of the keyboard, then subsided in a high piano trill that slowed to end in a single, tiny sound. The work grew through unpredictable instrumental combinations to suggest spiritual visions.
Flute with Orchestra 2001 on Capanna's, Chamber Symphony
"Dark music out of the shadows of Eastern Europe"
- Daniel Webster, The Philadelphia Inquirer, October 27, 1997
Freeman led Robert Capanna's Chamber Symphony, written in 1994 to dedicate the Settlement Music School's auditorium. This brightly paced reading of music for 12 players made its cheerful effect through shifting alliances, as each instrumentalist found new collaborators with whom to build clouds of changing sonic color.
Solo Flute with Orchestra 2001 on Thea Musgrave’s Oboe Concerto, Helios
“Orchestra 2001 at Swarthmore”
- Daniel Webster, The Philadelphia Inquirer, September 26, 1997
Richard Woodhams played the role of articulate, lyrical virtuoso in the Musgrave Concerto. He had to place his sound in context with the solo trumpet, with horns and other un-obvious instruments in music that ranged widely in expressive range and instrumental color. Woodhams probed this work intently, finding broad colors, bold moods and lyrical beauties.
Second Flute and piccolo with Orchestra 2001 on Messiaen's, Les offandes oubliees
"From Orchestra 2001, a Messiaen treasure"
- Leslie Valdes, The Philadelphia Inquirer, March 24, 1997
...Loriod-Messiaen herself took the piano role...
Quadruple-forte dynamics mark the midsection of Les offandes oubliees led by Orchestra 2001 maestro James Freeman. And how extraordinary it was to hear each overtone of its sparking, clashing, sonorous orchestral song in this acoustical marvel of a hall. Bravo to Freeman for this creative and celebratory collaboration, which was repeated in Center City yesterday. Bravo to all on stage for respecting this strikingly airborne and spirit-rich music.
Solo Flute with Orchestra 2001 on Ricky Ian Gordon's, Tibetan Book of the Dead
Ricky Ian Gordon writes in the idiom most common among contemporary composers: eclecticism. This approach has the obvious advantage of freeing the artist from a stylistic straitjacket, but also carries the considerable risk of producing work that is meandering and formless. Gordon avoids that pitfall in The Tibetan Book of the Dead by stringing together spacious melodies, jazzy riffs, Stravinsky-like neo-classicism and even a bit of the blues within a unifying tonal landscape. The most compelling aspect of Gordon’s music is his boldly colorful orchestration. More than a third of the pit orchestra consisted of percussion instruments, including xylophone, glockenspiel, timpani, snare, cymbals, tambourines, wood blocks, and gourds. A small string section, horn, trumpet, flute, clarinet, piano, and harp completed the lively ensemble. Gordon’s ability to balance this unusual combination of timbres is masterful. His sound is never overtly percussive, but fluidly adjusted for the theatrical needs of the opera. Gordon uses a somber kind of lushness as well as a glittery brightness to reflect corresponding dramatic elements in the libretto.
– Peter Burwasser, Philadelphia City Paper
Gordon could write glorious music to the telephone directory if he wanted to… the music soars, and we’re reminded of just how magnificent Gordon’s music can be. A major piece of new music.
– Cary Mazer, Philadelphia City Paper
Second Flute with Orchestra 2001 on Delage's, Four Hindu Songs
"Orchestra 2001 presents the century's greatest hits"
- Daniel Webster, The Philadelphia Inquirer, September 30, 1996
...Delage's Four Hindu Songs remind listeners of the European discovery of Asia, the first in waves of rediscovery still going on...
Nobody drowses in these concerts. Soprano Julianne Baird, a notable interpreter of baroque music, pulled on the fittings of this century's referential music to sing the Delage and Berio groups. Against the rich, exotic instrumental atmosphere of Delage, she used her deftly placed voice to evoke mystery and sensual warmth.
Second Flute and Bass Flute with Orchestra 2001 on Levinson's, in dark
"Orchestra 2001 performs new, melodic works"
- Daniel Webster, The Philadelphia Inquirer, September 12, 1995
... Each of the new works brimmed with melodic fervor, beguilling lyricism and instrumental color... Levinson’s songs, in dark, placed soprano Carmen Pelton with an instrumental group including flutes, piano, percussion, cello, viola and harp... The songs explored modal scales in suggesting shades and darkness, and the combination of bass and alto flutes with the ensemble created a coherence...
Second Flute and piccolo with Orchestra 2001 on Alfred Schnittke's, Concerto for No. 3 for Violin and Chamber Orchestra
"Tortured feelings followed by exuberance"
- Lesley Valdes, The Philadelphia Inquirer, February (5), 1994
Anguished and searching, the violin plays the solitary hero in Alfred Schnittke's Concerto for No. 3 for Violin and Chamber Orchestra and sets our many tortured feelings during its long solo introduction.
When the chamber orchestra finally joins in, the atmosphere changes to 13 winds, with many of their lower relatives, such as bass clarinet and contrabassoon, hauntingly set against the probing violin. Though the colors are brighter, the terrain the soloist and colleagues explore is bleak, and the dissonances clash even more harshly during the segue into the work's second movement, which is marked Agitato.
Only a hymnlike tune, played by woodwind chorale, serves as a harbinger of hope in this concerto, in which the Russian composer attempts to resolve disputes between tonality and atonality, violence and serenity...
Violinist Peter Zazafsky was the superb soloist, Orchestra 2001 his accomplished partner in a contemporary program Saturday night at Lang Concert Hall in Swarthmore. Execution-wise, the Schnittke concerto was the evening's high point, though perhaps its dour atmosphere was not to everyone's liking.