This weekend’s concerts by the Fort Worth Symphony Orchestra are underscoring a point about repertory. In the not-so-good old days, concerts were strictly about performances of proven masterpieces.
But not so much anymore. Without completely destroying the old patterns, today’s concerts are much more prone to focus on new works than to ignore them. Now you can almost expect something new.
An example was Friday night’s program in Bass Hall.
Miguel Harth-Bedoya and the orchestra introduced two works by a living composer, Mason Bates, who is approaching his 39th birthday.
Those who equate modern music with abrasive sounds might have their minds changed if they should listen to either one of them. This was listenable, sometimes even gentle music, and it got an enthusiastic response from a pretty good-sized audience.
The first work, Mothership, was downright lyrical at times, even including one episode that seemed kind of Coplandish in mood. The background included some persistent thudding percussion sounds, produced, I believe, by Bates himself by electronic means (he was onstage with the orchestra throughout).
The second work by Bates, Cello Concerto, was played by Joshua Roman and the orchestra (Bates now was offstage). This proved to be a composition with a pretty opening, some gentle rhythms and enough technical derring-do to satisfy those who like their concertos virtuosic.
Roman proved to be a phenomenal player, and the music was appealing enough to make multiple performances of the composition a safe bet.
It wasn’t all new music on this program. Harth-Bedoya led the orchestra through one of the greatest symphonic masterpieces, Beethoven’s Eroica Symphony.
This was a respectable performance that climaxed with a thrilling finale that included some glorious horn sounds. The woodwinds were eloquent throughout and the strings were in good form.
There seemed to be more coughing in the audience than usual, though it didn’t really spoil a good evening of music-making.
Fort Worth Symphony Orchestra
7:30 Saturday, 2 p.m. Sunday
Bass Hall, 525 Commerce St.