Earlier this week, we played a joint concert with the Music Academy of Sarajevo (Muzičke akademije u Sarajevu) comprised of student instrumentalists, faculty and student conductors and student soloists. My favorite piece of the concert was the Ravel Concerto for the Left Hand, we had an excellent soloist who was doing some amazing things considering he had half the fingers he's used to! Unfortunately the conductor was a bit lacking, he did not give clarity or space for musicality in a piece that is very liquid. He also had a tendency to drastically change tempos without warning or precedent, and continuously run the same section without specifying what he was looking for. Despite all this, I still loved the piece and would like to play it again.
We also performed a modern piece by the professor of theory at the Academy, a Liszt piano concerto (there were only two horns, I don't know which one it was) and a Mozart piece for two flutes and orchestra (again, two horns). A flute master's student named Esma played the piece along with her teacher Sakib, and she did an amazing job. I thought the pianist for the Liszt piece was impressive as well, the pianists at the academy are quite good.
The modern piece was called "As the Tree Grows" or "Kao što drvo raste". It was written by the professor of theory at the Academy, Ališera Sijarića. According to an article regarding the concert on klix.ba: "In a footnote to the score Sijarić states that in his work focuses on the idea of time, but not that linear, as it is most commonly seen, but one individual, which is inherent in each of us, which is developed and dispersed 'like a tree grows.'" See the original article here.
As a disclaimer, I'm not usually a fan of contemporary art pieces. Frankly, I think some composers get an image of themselves as a tortured artist interpreting the struggles of humanity and take it way too far. Professor Sijarića is definitely among them if this piece is representative of his normal work. I got the impression that this was a "finale piece," where the composer probably couldn't sing the confusing and complex rhythms he wrote because he just plugged them into the computer and thought they sounded cool. It was fairly non-sensical, in my opinion. I played some football whole notes, and a few odd scales with offset triplet rhythms that no one could truly fathom with the timpani playing duple syncopations.
Like I said, I'm not a huge fan of that style of music, but I'm also not in charge of programming so I have to do my best regardless! The orchestra still managed to put on a good show, and the student conductor assigned to the piece did a wonderful job putting it together and keeping everyone on track with where they needed to be. The audience seemed receptive to the piece, so maybe it's easier to digest from their perspective and when you haven't heard it rehearsed over and over.