Best Of 2019

Best Use of Electric Violin: "The Dharma at Big Sur" with the Cincinnati Symphony Orchestra

The great American composer John Adams wrote the two-part The Dharma at Big Sur in 2003 for solo electric violin and orchestra as a tribute to California composers Lou Harrison and Terry Riley, and it magnificently mixes Western avant-garde experimentalism with the swirling, spirited Raga of Indian music. It’s as open and receptive to the universe as Big Sur, itself. The Cincinnati Symphony Orchestra had previously performed it in 2008 (with Adams conducting), but its October 2018 performance featured the work’s originating soloist, Tracy Silverman. A virtuosic, classically trained violinist who also plays other genres, he commanded the stage — and the work — with his astonishing stamina and lyricism. This was about as close as Classical gets to the thrill of a long, building, cathartic Rock solo. Incidentally, it’d be nice if the CSO could bring Riley here as a guest — he deserves the honor. And how about a whole concert featuring Silverman? Cincinnati Symphony Orchestra, Music Hall, 1241 Elm St., Over-the-Rhine, cincinnatisymphony.org.