One of the most wonderful things about classical music, and symphonic music specifically, is that we are constantly dialoguing with the past and with the present, and that is what is shaping our future. Music has always been new. Bach’s music was new, as well as that by Monteverdi, Haydn, Mozart, Beethoven, Brahms, Mahler, Barber, Bernstein—it was all new at some point. One of the reasons is because orchestras and artists commission new pieces, and those reflect the times in which that music was written. It’s like a voyage back in time. When we listen to a piece that was composed many years ago, we understand more about the world that came before us, and that always helps us shed new light on the world we currently live in, which in turn informs the future.
A new piece that we commission is also a composer’s reflection on our time, which makes us ask questions about how we react to the way they express times that we know. We understand that when we play a newly commissioned piece, this is visionary and that perhaps generations after us will be able to understand it even better than we do. There’s a special enjoyment in witnessing a new way of expressing our world in music. Major institutions like The Philadelphia Orchestra must keep doing it, and I’d say even increase the amount they commission, like we have been doing in recent seasons. We love to commission works that come from communities or from areas of society that traditionally, and unfortunately, have been overlooked. This creates a balance with the pieces that we are all used to and makes our music scene even more profound, rich, and interesting.