A previously unreleased live recording of On Willows and Birches, Concerto for Harp and Orchestra written by Boston Pops Laureate Conductor John Williams for former BSO Principal Harpist Ann Hobson Pilot, is now available for purchase.
The orchestral work was recorded live at Symphony Hall on October 3, 2009 and features the Boston Symphony Orchestra led by former BSO Assistant Conductor Shi-Yeon Sung. The recording is available in three digital formats: 320kbps MP3, AIFF High Definition Stereo, and WMA High Definition Stereo.
Legendary composer John Williams wrote On Willows and Birches as a gift for, and to be performed by, former BSO principal harpist Ann Hobson Pilot, who retired from the BSO at the end of the 2009 Tanglewood season, after a 40-year career with the orchestra. Ms. Pilot is the first and only African-American woman to be appointed to the BSO, and is considered by many to be the greatest living harpist of her generation. The celebrated harpist is featured on the new recording and also gave the world premiere on Opening Night at Symphony on September 23, 2009.
One of several tree-inspired compositions in the Williams canon, On Willows and Birches is in two contrasting movements. The atmospheric “On Willows” movement is prefaced by the Biblical quote “We hanged our harps upon the willows…” from Psalm 137. The lively, rhythmically vibrant “On Birches” notes a line from Robert Frost’s poem “Birches” – “One could do no worse than be a swinger of birches.”
Although the music will be made available on iTunes and amazon.com at a later date, the concert recording will first be exclusively available for download on bso.org on the BSO Classics label. The two movement work runs approximately 15 minutes and is available in WMA hi def stereo, AIFF hi def stereo and MP3 320kbs formats. An MP3 of On Willows and Birches, Concerto for Harp will be available for $2.99, while AIFF and WMA formats of the work will cost $3.49.