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LOUISVILLE MAGAZINE 11.16 33 met, rehearsed and workshopped music with the American Composers Orches- tra over the course of a few days in New York. Several orchestral composers served as mentors during the event. One of them, Gabriela Lena Frank, says the work they did on La Barbera's piece was mostly small edits. "John is a master," she tells me. When the orchestra played through La Barbera's piece, the musicians applaud- ed him. He sheepishly admits that he was the only composer who drew applause from the orchestra itself. "ese players were phenomenal," he says. "ey could play anything, literally anything. ey were from the Phil, or the Met." La Barbera's piece, "Morro da Babi- lonia," was inspired by a trip he took to Brazil years ago. He toured the favelas, slums built atop slums. Propane tanks rattled and banged into one another on the backs of carts in the squalor, and so propane tanks show up as percussion instruments in the orchestra. La Barbera was struck by children juggling and performing circus tricks in the streets — which, he says, got them the opportu- nity to join circus programs and acrobat their way out of poverty — and a section of his score instructs musicians to play "circus-like." "ere are a lot of parallels between Brazilian choro and our jazz," he says. ey developed at the same time, both emphasize technical virtuosity and improvisation and, at one time, both featured clarinet. La Barbera wrote a clarinet solo for the piece, and the lead clarinetist in the orchestra thanked him for such a fun part.