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  • Grant Harville

The Best of the Decade

So I was looking at the AVclub's best albums of the 2010s, and I was mildly disappointed to see that everything they chose was what is sometimes called "mainstream" (pop/rock/hiphop/country/etc), with arguably the quasi-exceptions of Four Tet and Flying Lotus. That's not too surprising, since AVclub is a self-described pop culture site, though I feel like their movie choices had more generic variety, and of course I don't mean to impugn the quality of the albums they did choose. But it did get me thinking: what were my favorite orchestra pieces of the 2010s? And I realized: I have no idea.

More accurately, I realized that almost every orchestral piece written in the 2010s that I knew about was one I premiered. Looking back, I believe the stats go like this:

2010s Orchestra Pieces I've Heard: 22 2010s Orchestra Pieces I Premiered: 17 2010s Orchestra Pieces I Conducted But Didn't Premiere: 3 (two film scores and Mason Bates's Mothership) 2010s Orchestra Pieces I Heard From the Audience: 2

There were also probably a decent number of pieces I listened to on YouTube during my near-perpetual quest for programming ideas (I listened to Anna Clyne's Masquerade this way), one opera (Ghost Opera by Veronika Krausas), a decent number of orchestral film scores, and probably a few other things I'm forgetting. But it seems weird somehow that I know so little of the last decade's orchestral music.

Granted, it takes awhile for this music to disseminate, especially since most doesn't get an immediate commercial recording, or even a second performance. With the volume of music that's being produced, it's hard to tell at a distance what's worth your time. But unless I'm the luckiest guy on Earth, it's unlikely that all the best music of the decade was conducted by me. (Shout-out to Lauren Vandervelden: when she's famous and has won all the awards, I will tell everyone who will listen that I premiered her first orchestra piece.) So I'm probably missing out on some really good stuff.

So let's make our own list: what's your favorite orchestral composition of the 2010s? (I'm interested in anything under the classical umbrella - no self-nominations - but for practical reasons, I'm mostly interested in anything I could actually program.)

I'll start: Of the two I heard live, my favorite was Play by Andrew Norman.

(If you have a suggestion, find me on Twitter: @GrantHarville)

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