Leshnoff: Of Thee I Sing; Elegy; Violin Concerto No. 2 / Bendix-Balgley, OKC Philharmonic

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This is Naxos’s fifth album devoted to the music of leading American composer, Jonathan Leshnoff. He was GRAMMY-nominated for his album Violins of Hope (Naxos 8.559809) and is among the most frequently performed of living composers. The themes of these recent works are remembrance, memorialization, and hopefulness. Elegy addresses ideas of harmony and discord through contrasting thematic ideas. The Violin Concerto No. 2 follows the ‘symphony-concerto’ model with a resonant and lyrical slow movement inspired by Jewish mysticism at its core. Pulsating harmonies eventually subside into serene and hopeful writing in Of Thee I Sing, written in an act of creative transcendence to commemorate the 1995 Oklahoma City bombing.

Learn more in this Roundtable Discussion, which Arkiv co-hosted with Naxos! 


...and learn more about the release on the Naxos Classical Spotlight podcast!


Listening to Jonathan Leshnoff’s hauntingly beautiful Elegy, and then going on to listen to the superbly inventive Violin Concerto, one is again reminded that Leshnoff occupies a special niche among solidly established contemporary American composers: he inhabits a world of tonality and yet manages to say something unheard before with each note of music he pens.

The sterling violinist Noah Bendix-Balgley delivers an elegantly energetic reading of the concerto, supported by Alexander Mickelthwate at the helm of the Oklahoma City Philharmonic.

The orchestra and maestro Mickelthwate again excel in the emotionally charged Of Thee I Sing, accompanied by the highly accomplished vocal ensemble Canterbury Voices. Leshnoff sets the text of Samuel Francis Smith’s 1831 poem America to now anguished, now healing music that depicts the impact on the country following the tragic Oklahoma City bombing.

Many composers have rightfully refused to burden their art with any moral function. Inversely shunning art for art’s sake, Jonathan Leshnoff keeps company with some composers of the past by providing music that illuminates the human condition with art that compassionately heals the spirit. This listener cannot think of a higher calling.

-- All About the Arts (Rafael de Acha)

Even a cursory listen of Leshnoff's music reveals why his music resonates so powerfully with musicians and audiences. He's no iconoclast but rather someone who builds upon established traditions with works rich in harmony, lyricism, melody, and structural poise. His is an oft-eloquent music characterized by directness of expression, rhythmic propulsion, and introspection, and all such elements are accounted for in the recent works featured on the release. It also holds the distinction of being the Oklahoma City Philharmonic's first full-length album recording since its 1988 formation. It goes without saying that their superb presentation of Leshnoff's material flatters both composer and performer.

-- Textura

Product Description:

  • Release Date: April 21, 2023

  • Catalog Number: 8559927

  • UPC: 636943992722

  • Label: Naxos

  • Number of Discs: 1

  • Period: Contemporary

  • Composer: Jonathan Leshnoff

  • Conductor: Alexander Mickelthwate

  • Orchestra/Ensemble: Canterbury Voices, Oklahoma City Philharmonic

  • Performer: Noah Bendix-Balgley


  1. Elegy

    Composer: Jonathan Leshnoff

    Ensemble: Oklahoma City Philharmonic

    Conductor: Alexander Mickelthwate

  2. Violin Concerto No. 2

    Composer: Jonathan Leshnoff

    Ensemble: Oklahoma City Philharmonic

    Performer: Noah Bendix-Balgley (Violin)

    Conductor: Alexander Mickelthwate

  3. Of Thee I Sing

    Composer: Jonathan Leshnoff

    Ensemble: Oklahoma City Philharmonic, Canterbury Voices

    Conductor: Alexander Mickelthwate