The Alexandria Symphony Orchestra scored a trifecta in its program at the Schlesinger Concert Hall on Saturday (repeated on Sunday).
The Stravinsky “Firebird Suite” that opened the evening was a showcase for the orchestra’s power and its sharp-edged responses. The world premiere of conductor Kim Allen Kluge’s “Meibuki — Regeneration,” written to memorialize the victims of last year’s Japanese earthquake and tsunami, was the culmination of a week of violinist Midori’s residency with the orchestra and five local high schools. It brought 40 young musicians to the stage (along with the Arlington Children’s Chorus) to perform alongside the ASO professionals. As if to further underscore Midori’s increasing focus on working with young people, it featured her protege, violinist Simeon Simeonov, as soloist. Midori herself capped off the evening with a reading of the Mendelssohn Concerto that was, in the first movement, at least, more like her own personal conversation with the composer than a public performance.
In its first performance, “Meibuki — Regeneration” came across as a modest and restrained evocation of sorrow and hope. In two movements,“Lament” and “From Winter to Spring,” Kluge plays more with colors and textures than with line. The modal feeling of the Lament and the icy harmonics of the second movement that warm up as Spring and “Regeneration” approach may be predictable stuff, but Kluge does it well. He might not have achieved some of the other effects he describes in his notes; the children’s chorus was more an agreeable hum than a “mighty wind over the landscape,” and the “Spring round” sounded more like an oscillating motif than “a deceptively simple theme.” In the spirit of Midori’s residency, Kluge wrote this to be both accessible to student musicians and sophisticated enough for public performance, and he seems to have done a good job of it.