Amy Porter, the concert's featured soloist, seemed at one with the third work, Michael Daugherty's "Trail of Tears," a concerto for flute and orchestra. She premiered the piece a decade ago, and has clearly achieved a close identification with its astonishing interpretive and technical demands; she has recorded it with the Albany Symphony Orchestra. The music is a deeply felt evocation of the pain and persistence of Native Americans upon their forced removal from the southeastern United States nearly two centuries ago.
Extended techniques are exploited, but without overreliance on trickery. Conventional flute tone production is important to convey reflectiveness, including hints of sacred practices, as well as exuberance and assertiveness, notably in the multi-metered finale, "sun dance." Bent notes, like sighs or exhaustion, lend pathos to the score, and there is also flutter-tonguing and forceful blowing without sounded tones.
I heard no American Indianist cliches. The orchestration is immensely varied, with conspicuous percussion involvement. "Incantation," the second movement, cast a particularly hushed spell. Porter's appearance with a modern piece in which such embedding of the guest artist with the vehicle shone so brightly seems to me a high point in the ICO's recent history.