A highlight in our holiday program comes from the Philharmonic’s own Mark Fromm, a prolific composer and our principal bassoonist since 2013. His “O Night Divine” is an innovative arrangement of the familiar carol “O Holy Night.” Mark’s arrangement is both modern and beautiful. As Mark describes, “I use variations on the typical major and minor scales that allow me to create unusual harmonies and new countermelodies that flow underneath the main melody.” Although composed for a full orchestra, the arrangement often uses a variety of smaller combinations of instruments to present the melody, which Mark notes can produce “the feel of chamber music within a larger group.” Mark’s work also includes sections of new music based on fragments of the carol’s well-known melody.
Born and raised in Pittsburgh, Mark says that “at an early age, I knew I wanted to compose music.” Mark started composition lessons in the 10th grade, and he stayed in the area for most of his musical training, with a BFA in Composition from Carnegie Mellon University and a Ph.D. in Music Composition and Theory from the University of Pittsburgh. You may remember his works “Frick Gates,” which the Philharmonic commissioned and performed in 2014, and “What Child is This, Lully, Lullay” from the 2015 holiday concert. A skilled performer as well, the Philharmonic is fortunate to have Mark among our ranks and we are thrilled to be playing his music again.