The Burlington Chamber Orchestra, under the direction of Michael Hopkins, joined with UVM's Department of Dance to present two evenings (Jan. 22-23) for which the BCO provided the music and choreographers Paul Besaw and Clare Byrne provided the choreography: an original work by Hopkins entitled Now Winter Nights Enlarge, the opening line or title of a poem by Thomas Campion and Aaron Copland's Appalachian Spring.
Hopkins has written a score that can stand alone, and having heard the first performance I found myself wanting to hear a second performance. My instincts were correct: this is a fine work for a chamber orchestra that should find its way into chamber orchestra programs all across the country.
The themes are established in the first and most lively section of the store and then are heard again in some of the movements at different tempi and for different effect. One of the most notable themes was a single-note that created an arch of volume and intensity that reversed itself back to the original volume and intensity. This particular piece of thematic material somehow underscored both the sadness and the implacability of winter. I was even more favorably impressed by this score of Hopkins' when I heard it the second time. The most amazing thing about the work is that it accomplishes others stated goal: that it should perform the task of relating the work to Copeland's score without just being a stylistic reworking. Hopkins accomplish this task to my complete satisfaction (on the Saturday evening, the second performance, many things such as lighting for the dancers was present, and that aspect of the production was more satisfactory).
The performance by the BCO of the score for Appalachian Spring was polished and demonstrated the lyricism as well as the sharp angularity of contrasting parts of the score.