Double Reed Madness

Scroll down

In an epic concert co-curated by Brad Balliet featuring New York's most extraordinary double reed players, we celebrated double reeds of all kinds, including the shawm and zurna

No items found.
Let’s talk now!
Let’s talk now!

EXO partnered with Artistic Advisor Brad Balliett to create a fully immersive celebration of double reeds, with 36 oboes and bassoons (including 3 contrabassoons!) surrounding the audience, commissions and world premieres from Brad Balliett and Viet Cuong, a dance party featuring the Macedonian Zurna, and an exploration of the Medieval Shawm.


The world-première recording of “The Prison,” a choral symphony written in 1930 by the English composer Ethel Smyth, arrives as demands for a more representative, equitable canon are mounting. For too long, Smyth has been relegated to footnote status: an ardent suffragist who was jailed for her efforts and a prominent lesbian, she wrote what was, until 2016, the only work by a female composer to be staged at the Metropolitan Opera (“Der Wald,” in 1903). “The Prison” exerts a metaphysical gravity, not just because of the text by Henry Brewster but also because Smyth’s music calls to mind Brahms, Elgar, and even Mahler at their most visionary and searching. The conductor James Blachly elicits splendid work from the vocal soloists, Sarah Brailey and Dashon Burton, and from the Experiential Orchestra and Chorus.

Steve Smith, The New Yorker