NEC Symphony + David Loebel: Big Questions

NEC: Jordan Hall | Directions

290 Huntington Ave.
Boston, MA
United States

The pandemic has forced us to question many basic assumptions about both our everyday lives and the state of our country. Joan Tower’s Made in America—a 21st century take on America the Beautiful—is bracketed on this concert by two contrasting works of Charles Ives: The Unanswered Question asks the biggest question of all, while Variations on “America” harks back to an earlier time of bombastic, sentimental patriotism. Perhaps amid all these serious thoughts there’s still space for the humor of Haydn’s “Surprise” Symphony.   –David Loebel

This performance is open to in-person audiences, and can also be viewed below via livestream.

View livestream from Jordan Hall:


  • NEC Symphony
  1. Giuseppe Verdi | Overture to "La forza del destino"

  2. Franz Joseph Haydn | Symphony No. 94 in G Major, Hob.1:94, "Surprise"

    Adagio - Vivace assai
    Menuet: Allegro molto
    Finale: Allegro di molto

  3. Charles Ives | The Unanswered Question

  4. Joan Tower | Made in America (2004)

    I crossed a fairly big bridge at the age of nine when my family moved to South America (La Paz, Bolivia), where we stayed for nine years. I had to learn a new language, a new culture, and how to live at 13,000 feet! It was a lively culture with many saints' days celebrated through music and dance, but the large Inca population in Bolivia was generally poor, and there was little chance of moving up in class or work position.
            When I returned to the United States, I was proud to have free choices, upward mobility, and the chance to try to become who I wanted to be. I also enjoyed the basic luxuries of an American citizen that we so often take for granted: hot running water, blankets for the cold winters, floors that are not made of dirt, and easy modes of transportation, among many other things. So when I started composing this piece, the song "America the Beautiful" kept coming into my consciousness and eventually became the main theme for the work. The beauty of the song is undeniable, and I loved working with it as a musical idea. One can never take for granted, however, the strength of a musical idea — as Beethoven (one of my strongest influences) knew so well. This theme is challenged by other more aggressive and dissonant ideas that keep interrupting, unsettling it, but "America the Beautiful" keeps resurfacing in different guises (some small and tender, others big and magnanimous), as if to say, "I'm still here, ever changing, but holding my own." A musical struggle is heard throughout the work. Perhaps it was my unconscious reacting to the challenge of how do we keep America beautiful.                                                                               —Joan Tower

  5. Charles Ives (arr. William Schuman) | Variations on "America"

    Introduction and Theme
    Variation I
    Variation II
    Interlude I
    Variation III
    Variation IV
    Interlude II
    Variation V


  6. NEC Symphony

    First Violin
    Masha Lakisova
    Eunha Kim
    Darwin Chang
    Kitty Amaral
    Chiung-Han Tsai
    Caroline Smoak
    Tsubasa Muramatsu
    Gabriella Foster
    Claire Byeol Kim
    Shiyu Wang
    Arun Ashtahgiri
    Kristy Chen

    Second Violin
    Emma Boyd
    Michael Fisher
    Hila Dahari
    Tiffany Yeung
    Clayton Hancock
    Sydney Scarlett
    Sarah Campbell
    Helena Hwang
    Theresa Katz
    Célina Bethoux

    Asher Boorstin
    Ru-Yao Van der Ploeg
    Philip Rawlinson
    Katherine Purcell
    Jowen Hsu
    Chloe Ehrmantraut
    Nicolette Sullivan-Cozza
    Nathan Emans

    David You
    Miruna Eynon
    Lexine Feng
    Lily Stern
    Jonah Kernis
    Max Zhenren Zhao

    Luke Tsuchiya
    Cailin Singleton
    Colby Heimburger
    Isabel Atkinson

    Anne Chao*
    Isabelle Evernham
    Honor Hickman§
    Subee Kim
    Elizabeth Kleiber+
    Subin Oh
    Joon Park‡
    Anna Ridenour
    Dianne Seo^

    Anna Chao
    Elizabeth Kleiber*+
    Joon Park
    Anna Ridenour§

    Yuhsi Chang
    Corinne Foley‡
    Coleton Morgan*+§

    Sarah Cho
    Xianyi Ji+
    Tao Ke§
    Cole Turkel*

    Adam Chen
    Garrett Comrie§
    Seth Goldman
    Carson Meritt+
    Andrew Salaru‡
    Wang Jialu*

    French horn
    Mattias Bengtsson*
    Graham Lovely+
    Mauricio Martinez§
    Jenna Stokes‡
    Xiaoran Xu

    Matthew Mihalko+
    Justin Park*
    Alexandra Richmond‡
    Caitlin Tay
    Cody York^§

    Elias Canales
    Noah Korenfeld§
    Noah Nichilo*
    Alex Russell+
    Kevin Smith

    Bass Trombone
    Roger Dahlin*
    Jason Sato§

    Jordan Jenifor*
    Hayden Silvester§

    Isabella Butler§
    Nga leng Lai‡
    Mark Larrivee*
    Eli Reisz+

    Isabella Butler
    Nga leng Lai
    Mark Larrivee+
    Eli Reisz§
    Rohan Zakaria*

    Shaylen Joos
    Zi Li*


    Principal players
    ^Ives Unanswered Question
    §Ives Variations