The atmosphere of Saturday morning rehearsal at Boston’s Symphony Hall is vastly different from that of concert night. Under a week before Thursday night’s premiere of Brooklyn-based American composer Timo Andres’ “Everything Happens So Much,” the musicians of the Boston Symphony Orchestra (BSO) walk in and out of the stage door wearing jeans and sneakers instead of all-black and dress shoes.
As the musicians play through the piece, which was commissioned for the BSO, one violinist makes a bowing error. She peeks at the musicians who sit in front of her to re-synchronize herself with her section. Mid-piece, a violist saunters across the stage and takes his seat. In the eyes of an amateur musician, seeing the giants of the Boston classical music scene act so casually is like being in another world.
Listening to “Everything Happens So Much” also makes listeners feel like they are in another world. The piece begins with a lively run on the piccolo that sounds like a pebble being skipped across a pond. This transitions into a lyrical section carried out by the woodwinds and strings. The piece could be considered a back-and-forth between gentle sections like this and more chaotic, brass-heavy sections that seem to characterize the piece’s title.
Following rehearsal, Andres explained that the title of “Everything Happens So Much” was inspired by a tweet from the experimental Twitter account “Horse_ebooks.”
“I like my titles to be in plain language and unmannered,” he said. “I don’t want to get too inventive with my titles because I think that speaks to a level of insecurity with the work itself.”
While he named his piece after a tweet, Andres said that he is skeptical that the social media scene is radically changing the face of classical music, as is commonly thought.
“I’m not convinced that it’s as revolutionary a development as the [social media] companies themselves,” he said.
Andres explained that the piece’s title matches up with the rhythmic patterns in the piece.
“It seemed to fit with what is happening in the piece, which are these multiple, simultaneous layers that are each moving at their own speed,” he said. “There’s kind of this obsessive level of contrapuntal activity.”
In this sea of varying rhythms, the piccolo is the glue that holds the music together. It opens the piece with fast, rhythmic material and then reappears with a slow, melodic solo in the middle.
“That was intentional,” Andres said. “There’s sort of a nice symmetry about that.”
Because the piccolo is the highest register in an orchestra, Andres said it has the ability to create potential energy in a piece.
“There’s something nice about starting from the very top of the orchestra,” he said. “I think it can create a kind of momentum. This melody is [like] rolling a ball down some kind of curvy ramp.”
“Everything Happens So Much” ends abruptly and unexpectedly on a gentle, dying chord. The listener is left with the sense that the composer still has something to say.
“I think because the piece starts out with the fast music, it felt more symmetrical somehow to end it with slow music,” Andres said. “The musical materials I’m attracted to are ones that could keep going forever and become this sort of perpetual, generative process.”
He went on to describe an urge to withhold from his listeners that which they expect and desire.
“It might just be stubbornness,” he said. “People always want the loud, exciting ending, so I don’t want to give it to them.”
“Everything Happens So Much” will be performed Thursday, Friday and Saturday night at Boston’s Symphony Hall.