Zwilich, who has broken a lot of ground for women composers including being the first woman composer to earn a doctorate from Juilliard as well as being the first woman composer to win the Pulitzer Prize (in 1983 for her Symphony No. 1). Her Fifth Symphony (“Concerto for Orchestra”) was commissioned by Juilliard and premiered by the Juilliard Symphony in Carnegie Hall.
Reviewer Steve Smith stated, “Determining whether Ms. Zwilich’s Fifth Symphony is among her strongest creations would require more than a single hearing. But the qualities that have long made her music personal and compelling were certainly present, and the Juilliard musicians took up the piece with diligence and vitality.”
In the work that I have done regarding recent orchestral repertoire, I have been disheartened by the extremely few performances of works by Zwilich by “top” orchestras – particularly considering the acclaim that surrounds the composer. Perhaps this new work will soon find its way to more symphony halls.