Here are three 20th-century violin concertos written within a 30-year period in three totally different styles, played by a soloist equally at home in all of them. Bernstein's Serenade, the earliest and most accessible work, takes its inspiration from Plato's Symposium; its five movements, musical portraits of the banquet's guests, represent different aspects of love as well as running the gamut of Bernstein's contrasting compositional styles. Rorem's concerto sounds wonderful. Its six movements have titles corresponding to their forms or moods; their character ranges from fast, brilliant, explosive to slow, passionate, melodious. Philip Glass's concerto, despite its conventional three movements and tonal, consonant harmonies, is the most elusive. Written in the "minimalist" style, which for most ordinary listeners is an acquired taste, it is based on repetition of small running figures both for orchestra and soloist, occasionally interrupted by long, high, singing lines in the violin against or above the orchestra's pulsation.
The term "New York downtown jazz" is sometimes frowned upon by its practitioners, who tend to feel stylistically pigeonholed by the description and also linked to a certain club south of Canal Street, about which many feel ambivalent at best. There might be a number of reasons for these members of the New York creative music community to roll their eyes at yet another reference to "downtowners" (not the least of which being that many of them live in Brooklyn), but they must at least acknowledge that the downtown scene is usually described in positive terms – edgy, progressive, boundary-stretching, adventurous, non-idiomatic – in contrast to the Midtown scene surrounding Wynton Marsalis and Lincoln Center, which, while credited with keeping the flame of classic modern jazz alive in America, has also been accused of a certain stodgy, retro, parochial, and limited sensibility in today's current, all-encompassing world of jazz and creative improvisation.
David Leisner is on extraordinarily versatile musician with a multifaceted career as electrifying performing artist, a distinguished composer, and a master teacher. Regarded as one of America’s leading classical guitarists, his superb musicianship and provocative programming have been applauded by critics and audiences around the world.