Mstislav Rostropovich, music director of the National Symphony Orchestra, commissioned [Robert Parris]' "Symphonic Variations" after he conducted an earlier work by Parris, the Concerto for Five Kettledrums. The only restriction he placed on Parris was that it be a large orchestra work of more than 20 minutes.
For his part, Parris is pleased to have the composition conducted by Rostopovich. "He seems to understand my music," Parris said, recalling a rehearsal for a previous work. Parris wanted to fine-tune the piece by changing the orchestration and dynamics but found that Rostropovich already had made those corrections.
Writing for the theater can be even more challenging, with strict limitations on style and timing. Jim Irwin, production manager for the Folger Theatre, said he chose Parris because of his "ability to be flexible." Irwin said that he and Michael Kahn, the director of the Folger's upcoming production of "Macbeth," heard tapes of Parris' work that "had an ominous, haunting quality that we wanted for the show." Parris' music "is just extremely well-suited because the show is a fairly dark play," Irwin said.
Reproduced with permission of the copyright owner. Further reproduction or distribution is prohibited without permission.