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Atlanta Symphony Orchestra Performs Alvin Singleton's Different River

Sep. 01, 2021

Robert Spano led the Atlanta Symphony Orchestra in performances of Alvin Singleton's Different River on September 17-18 at Atlanta Symphony Hall. The orchestra, under Spano's direction, commissioned Different River and gave the world premiere of the work in 2012.
Carman Moore writes of this work:

Are we in this river or observing it? Strange objects float by. Intensely themselves, they may be the mystical-though-annunciatory percussion utterance that opens Different River. Or the galloping 16th notes from mallet instruments that follow, or the contrasting long, long tones of strings and woodwinds, or a brass fanfare, the sweet mumblings of solo harp, and then a stretch of silence.  Unlike in many of his works, Singleton here seems not to favor any of these as the “theme” that wins out in the end.  Each element that enters and passes is bright, clear, and strong. There are moments when elements gather, crash together, and  suggest “climax.”  But the true theme of Different River is the listener’s experiencing the rolling by of disparate musical passages. River-like, each impresses or intrigues us, and like the river of life, all pass on.

Listen to Alvin Singleton's After Choice (2009):

(After Choice/Alvin Singleton/The Orchestra Now/James Bagwell, conductor)

In addition, Alvin Singleton's Argoru VIII for solo snare drum will be performed on September 28 as part of the American Composers Orchestra's "Welcome Back Family and Friends Chamber Concert". Carman Moore notes:

"Argoru VIII for snare drum is a daring, even cheeky little piece. It plays with the common notions of what snare drums are supposed to do. For example, it features absolutely deafening silences. It is also decidedly about rhythm on the one hand and about expression on the other, no less so than a popular song might be. Like some strange creature eloquent in only its own language, the snare drum gets worked up but also whispers, gripping the listener in its brutal honesty. The composer is quoted as saying of the work, “I avoided the use of drum rolls, flams and other typical things one associates with snare drumming. Rhythm was my main concentration in the writing of this work.” Argoru VIII was commissioned by Meet The Composer Commissioning Music/USA and was written for Peggy Benkeser."

(Argoru VIII/Alvin Singleton/Peggy Benkeser, snare drum)

To learn more about Alvin Singleton, visit:

Alvin Singleton
Different River (2012)
for orchestra

Argoru VIII (2002)
for solo snare drum