Eighteen Years Ago, He Got 314 People to Perform His Music in the Meyerson

Categories: Music
Henry Brant

We begin this a.m. with a note of passing that has nothing to do with the end of the Dallas Mavericks' torturous season. The Washington Post carries today the obituary for composer Henry Brant, the 94-year-old Pulitzer Prize-winner who died Friday at his home in Santa Barbara, California. And the local connection is ... ?

In April 1990, not long after the dust had settled at the newly opened Morton H. Meyerson Symphony Center, Brandt debuted one of his now-immortal spatial pieces, all of which involved the scattering of musicians around the concert hall. But this one was particularly epic: Brandt's work, written specifically for the I.M. Pei-designed Meyerson, was titled "Prisons of the Mind" -- and, for those who don't recall the spectacular-spectacular, the Dallas Symphony Orchestra on that night was expanded to accommodate 314 musicians with "eight separated groups, with eight conductors." The purpose of the piece, it has been written, was to "showcase [the Meyerson's] superb acoustics," though damned if I can find a recording of the event among his estimable discography. So, this a.m., a request amongst those in the classical know: Does one exist? Because now'd be the time to share it. --Robert Wilonsky


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