The ensemble made its debut at the 1998 Vision Festival,
performing Jimmy Lyons chamber-orchestra work
Something Is The Matter at the festivals
memorial tribute to its late composer.
Over the course of the next year, the group expanded nearly
two-fold for its 1999 Vision Festival premiere of
Alan Silvas Mystic Pilgrimage - a multi-media work
dedicated to composer-saxophonist Marion Brown - which they subsequently
documented on audio and video recordings for commercial release
by Eremite Records and Context Studios Productions.
The resulting debut CD, Alan Silva & the Sound Vision Orchestra (Eremite MTE 026),
has won high praise from music critics, including those at Wire magazine,
who named it as one of the years top 15 jazz CDs.
Ensemble members have continued their collaborative engagement
with Silvas work into the new millennium, performing with
him at venues such as Context and the Knitting Factory, and
providing the core membership for his new Celestial Communications Orchestra.
The year 2000 brought growing recognition for the orchestras
artistic achievements, as the Mary Flagler Cary Charitable Trust
provided funds to commission a concert-length work from acclaimed
composer-musician Bill Dixon.
Enthusiastically received by a capacity crowd at its Vision Festival
2000 world premiere, INDEX represents a landmark work in Dixons
oeuvre that the ensemble seeks to present to audiences worldwide.
At present, SVO is engaged in raising funds for a comprehensive recording
of this ambitious piece and investigating opportunities for further performances.
The excitement surrounding INDEXs premiere - as well as its composers
own example - inspired ensemble members shortly thereafter to organize
as an independent not-for-profit membership corporation.
To inaugurate this new collective initiative, the ensemble premiered works
by member artist-composers Steve Swell and Warren Smith at Vision Festival 2001.
SVOs Composers Forum series continued with a concert at Roulette
featuring a program of works by Rob Brown, Will Connell, Jeff Hoyer, J. D. Parran,
and Warren Smith, dedicated to the orchestras recently departed bassist
and board member Wilber Morris. The next concert in this series will take place
at the YWCA-NYC (610 Lexington Avenue @ 53rd Street) on Friday 26 September 2003.
In 2002, the organization received a grant from the Mary Flagler Cary Charitable Trust
to commission a new concert-length musical work from renowned composer-pianist Cecil Taylor.
Conceived and scored for twenty-three piece improvising orchestra, the piece also
featured three vocalists performing a text written by Taylor himself.
The orchestra presented the world premiere of this composition,
With Blazing Eyes and Opend Mouth,
at the Knitting Factory in lower Manhattan on 20-21 June 2002, with
Taylor leading the ensemble and performing on piano.
This premiere engagement was recently named Outstanding Alternative Jazz Performance
of the year by a panel of 23 distinguished critics, including Gary Giddins of
the Village Voice, at the first annual Nightlife Awards.
The unqualified success of these performances, in the eyes of the
composer, musicians, critics, and audience members alike, inspired
Taylor and SVO to pursue opportunities for further collaboration.
Most recently, SVO received a grant from the Fund for
U.S. Artists at International Festivals and Exhibitions to support its
premiere European performance with Taylor at the Skopje Jazz Festival on 22 October 2002.
Taylor led the fourteen-piece orchestra and performed as featured piano soloist,
in a newly composed work that further developed the dynamic large-ensemble
conceptions laid out in With Blazing Eyes.