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Friday’s SSO program had visceral appeal aplenty. The concert began with Steve Cohen’s “Juggernaut,” as showy a piece of orchestral writing as I have heard in this relatively new millennium. The 2002 work clearly marks Cohen as an Eastman School-involved composer. The confident combination of a clean, crisp orchestration for a large group and the relative accessibility of the materials and harmonic touches of the work have strong roots undoubtedly planted by American composer and longtime Eastman guiding spirit, Howard Hanson. “Juggernaut” works its way through other influences as well, such as the minimalism and pop/rock rhythms typical of John Adams, as well as the sweep and dash of some of the popular concert and film works of John Williams.—Chuck Klaus, Syracuse Post-Standard — 19 January 2006“Steve Cohen’s nifty orchestral composition ‘Juggernaut’ started with a nearly inaudible rumble in the bass drum and piano before the double basses stirred the murk to shape and drive it.“It was lean-in-and-pay-attention stuff, which Cohen backed up with a 10-minute composition full of brilliant details - swirling textures, leaping rhythms, neat intertwining melodies and forceful, novel combinations of instrumental colors.
“The piece, in its premier performance by the West Virginia Symphony Orchestra on Friday night at the Clay Center, is this year’s winner of the Museum in the Community/WVSO Composer’s Award.“It created quite a buzz in the audience. When I asked around the balcony at intermission, I did not find anyone who did not enjoy the piece (and several said they were thrilled by it).
“The middle section has a hammered chord that keeps interrupting, to its detriment, some beguiling work in the woodwinds and percussion, and the first climax sounds a tad routine. But that is small change in a fascinating piece that gripped one’s attention effortlessly and held it…”— David Williams, Charleston Saturday Gazette-Mail, 13 November 2004