Edgar Meyer and Marc O'Connor collaborated a decade ago for Appalachia waltz and Appalachian Journey, a genre blending classical-meets-bluegrass string trio (Meyer plays the bass, O'Connor the fiddle, and Yo-Yo Ma completed the deal with his cello). The end result: music that resonated with people, a top-of-the-charts hit cd, a Grammy award. It helped boosts Meyer's reputation as an iconoclast performer and composer for him to score an Avery Fisher prize and McArthur "Genius" Grant and for O'Connor to land a composer-in-residence gig with the New Century Chamber Orchestra this season. Both were in town over the past two week-ends. Meyer gave a solo recital hosted by SF Performances. And O'Connor unveiled the outcome of his residency, a chamber symphony for the string orchestra.
We heard the New Century Chamber Orchestra on Saturday at Herbst for their last set of the season; they sounded as tight as can be in the first half of the program, with an expressive excerpt from Elgar's string serenade; a lively rendition of the same composer's Introduction and Allegro for solo quartet and strings; and Sir Roger de Coverly, a joyful and bagpipey folk tune set for chamber orchestra by Frank Bridge (who is most remembered for being Benjamin Britten's teacher now).