Getting it Right the First Time Is Not the Point

1-29 James Freeman

James Freeman

Even Mozart laid some eggs. The prodigiously productive composer began writing at age 5, but it was not until his 271st composition that he produced what is acclaimed today as his first concerto of mature genius and profundity. So said James Freeman of Wallingford, artistic director of Chamber Orchestra First Editions, whose February 21 debut concert program will feature this work — the Piano Concerto K. 271 — along with a very early (age 8) Mozart Symphony K. 16, which will give rise to a discussion of the evolution or Mozart’s talent.

“It takes composers a few tries to get it right,” Freeman said. “It may not take 270 tries, but like musicians, composers need to practice, and they need to hear their pieces played in order to get better.”

First Editions is dedicated to presenting early works of contemporary composers. The group’s first program, to be played in Swarthmore on Sunday, February 21, at 3 p.m. features new works by American composers Cynthia Folio and Heidi Jacob of Swarthmore, interspersed with discussions of the pieces by the composers, Freeman, and piano soloist Charles Abramovic of Swarthmore.

This concert is the premiere performance by First Editions. In 1988, while a Swarthmore College music professor, Freeman was a founder and artistic director of Orchestra 2001, the contemporary classical music ensemble based in Philadelphia. “After 25 years, I started feeling I needed to do something different, and I came to the idea of founding an ensemble to support and explore the creative development of local composers.”

First Editions comprises professional musicians from Philadelphia and the area, as well as some musicians handpicked from the Swarthmore community, Freeman says. “Every class at the college contains students who were gifted enough musicians to go to conservatories, but chose liberal arts instead. We give them an opportunity to keep playing at a high level.”

The program below for the Sunday, February 21, 3 p.m. concert at Lang Concert Hall at Swarthmore College will be repeated on Friday, February 26, at 7:30 p.m. at Roberts Hall, Haverford College. Concerts are free, ticketless, and open to the public. For more information, visit

First Editions Program:

• Pre-concert: Bob Beach Trio (Swarthmore only)
• Symphony in E flat major, K. 16, W.A. Mozart
• Discussion with Cynthia Folio, Heidi Jacob, James Freeman
Pentaprism (2015), world premiere, Cynthia Folio
Many In One (2015), world premiere, Heidi Jacob
• Discussion of Mozart’s K. 16 and K. 271 with Charles Abramovic and James Freeman
• Piano Concerto in E flat major, K. 271, W.A. Mozart

Leave a Reply