A Smashed and Splintered Music

Finally, the man with the broken trumpet began to blow, signaling the third and final movement of the fifty-minute performance. This was the most beautiful, lyrical, chord-based section, and as their flawed machine began to soar triumphant, I forgot that these instruments were broken. The orchestra’s crescendo stretched on until the piece closed with a short passage from a single clarinet player, fragile in that huge space. This was David Lang’s remarkable Symphony for a Broken Orchestra, a score written to accommodate the various the infirmities of damaged instruments from Philadelphia’s public schools.

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