Critic’s Choice

March 25, 2015 at 1:37 pm

By Aaron Keebaugh

Michael Gandolfi

Three years ago, the Boston Symphony Orchestra, with financial help from the Gomidas Organ Fund, commissioned Michael Gandolfi for an organ concerto. And Thursday night at Symphony Hall, Gandolfi’s Ascending Light will receive its long-awaited world premiere when Andris Nelsons leads the work with the BSO. French organist Olivier Latry will perform as soloist.

Ascending Light was written to mark the centennial of the Armenian genocide. It also will serve to memorialize the Armenian-American organist Berj Zamkochian, who performed regularly with the BSO for almost forty years. (Zamkochian was the soloist on Charles Munch’s celebrated BSO recording of Saint-Saëns’ Symphony No. 3.)

The work promises to make dramatic and powerful use of the organ and orchestra, though the music will be firmly rooted in Armenian sources. The second movement will feature variations on a famous Armenian tune “Lullaby of Tigranakert,” as well as statements of “Aravot Lousaber” (“Ascending Light”), a religious melody that gives the concerto its name.

Filling out the program will be Mahler’s colossal and tragic Symphony No. 6.

The program will be performed 8 p.m. Thursday, 1:30 p.m. Friday, and 8 p.m. Saturday and Tuesday at Symphony Hall. bso.org; 617-266-1492

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