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Friday & Saturday, September 30 & October 1 at 8:00 PM
Aaron Copland El Salón México
Samuel Barber Knoxville: Summer of 1915, op. 24
Aaron Copland Zion’s Walls from Old American Songs
Hale Smith This Little Light of Mine from Four Negro Spirituals
~ Janice Chandler-Eteme, soprano
Peter Boyer Ellis Island: The Dream of America
Collaboration with actors from the Classic Theatre of Maryland
A rousing opening to the season celebrating aspects of America. Copland’s El Salón México is a postcard impression of Mexico through its dance hall melodies. Samuel Barber’s Knoxville: Summer of 1915 evokes the tranquil and dreamlike American South. With text taken from the Ellis Island Oral History Project, Peter Boyer’s work tells the stories of seven different immigrants from seven different countries who arrived between 1910 and 1940. Their stories transcend generations and still resonate today.
Dvořák Symphony No. 7
Friday & Saturday, November 4 & 5 at 8:00 PM
Franz Schubert Rosamunde Overture, D. 644
Lowell Liebermann Concerto for Violoncello, op. 132 (ASO co-commission)
~ Julian Schwarz, violoncello
Antonín Dvořák Symphony No. 7 in D minor, op. 70
Incidental music by Schubert immortalized the now largely forgotten play by Helmina von Chézy about Cypriot princess Rosamunde seeking to reclaim her lost throne. Co-commissioned by a collection of orchestras, Lowell Liebermann’s cello concerto was first heard by audiences in Toledo, Ohio and reviewed by the Toledo Blade as “simply beautiful…The orchestrations are richly complex, replete with color, and underlay the solo role of the cello perfectly: balanced, tasteful and resilient.” Dvořák’s Symphony No. 7 is superbly adjusted, intensely expressive music in which melodies appear in almost limitless supply, music fired by a vigorous lyrical Bohemian spirit, warmed by tenderness but never smothered by sentimentality.
Beethoven’s Emperor Concerto
Friday & Saturday, February 3 & 4 @ Maryland Hall at 8:00 PM
Valerie Coleman Seven O’Clock Shout
Ludwig van Beethoven Concerto for Piano No. 5 in E-flat major, op. 73 “Emperor”
~ Jon Nakamatsu, piano
Juan Crisóstomo Arriaga Overture to Los Esclavos Felices
Dmitri Shostakovich Symphony No. 1 in F minor, op. 10
Inspired by the evening serenades amidst pandemic isolation, Seven O’Clock Shout reminds us of the sacrifices of heroes. Celebrated pianist Jon Nakamatsu is featured in Beethoven’s Piano Concerto No. 5. Though it is a concerto, its scope is symphonic; a novel innovation for the time and remains the best known and most frequently performed of Beethoven’s five piano concertos. Arriaga’s opera tells the story of plucky Spanish nobles captured as slaves in Africa who find their way to freedom. 18-year-old Shostakovich burst onto the international music scene with his first Symphony, written to fulfill his graduation requirements from the Leningrad Conservatory. We can recognize the unmistakable personal voice that would become his signature.
Doomed: Mahler’s Tragic 6th
Friday & Saturday, March 3 & 4 at 8:00 PM
Gustav Mahler Symphony No. 6 in A minor “Tragic”
The composer’s wife, Alma, said, “‘It is the hero, on whom fall three blows of fate, the last of which fells him as a tree is felled,’ were his words. Not one of his works came as directly from his inmost heart as this. We both wept that day. The music and what it foretold touched us deeply….” Experience has taught us to be wary of portents of doom and gloom especially from the Mahlers who had a special gift for this. He, in particular, was a morbidly sensitive soul who, with the wisdom of our hindsight, embraced every tragedy or potential tragedy as an inevitability. It is a feeling that thoroughly colors his music, dripping with emotion: Gustav Mahler, the victim of cruel fate. Doomed.
Two Romantics – Brahms & Prokofiev
Friday & Saturday, March 31 & April 1 @ Maryland Hall at 8:00 PM
Behzad Ranjbaran Esther
Sergei Prokofiev Concerto for Violin No. 1 in D major, op. 19
~ Sayaka Shoji, violin
Johannes Brahms Symphony No. 2 in D major, op. 73
The biblical story of Esther, who uses bravery and cunning to save the Jews of Persia, is the inspiration for this piece by Behzad Ranjbaran exploring the connections between music and mysticism of the Persian mythology of his native Iran. Simply too romantic for Paris audiences looking for riots like The Rite of Spring, the premiere of Prokofiev’s Violin Concerto No. 1 didn’t inspire. Happily, Russian audiences found it delightfully lyrical and “too romantic” is hardly an offense to modern ears. The D major Symphony by Brahms seems to reflect the composer’s relaxed state of mind during the happy summer of 1877. The lyrical character of the work—sometimes referred to as Brahms’s “Pastoral” Symphony—is remarkably intricate and unified, resulting in a composition that radiates energy and optimism from start to finish.
Saint-Saëns Organ Symphony
Friday & Saturday, May 5 & 6 @ Maryland Hall at 8:00 PM
Michael-Thomas Foumai World Premiere
Erich Wolfgang Korngold Concerto for Violin in D major, op. 35
~ James Ehnes, violin
Camille Saint-Saëns Symphony No. 3 in C minor, op. 78 “Organ”
Korngold’s Violin Concerto is the late work of a prodigy that defies any suggestion that its composer lost his flair once his brilliant childhood was past. Part of the rich Viennese tradition, Korngold, famous for elevating the Hollywood film score to a high art, expected great artists to be endowed with a complete command of their technical resources and richly expressive. Grammy-winning violinist James Ehnes is sure to meet these expectations. Wagner famously espoused that after Beethoven’s Ninth the symphonic form could not be bettered. Camille Saint-Saëns with his Third Symphony said not so fast. His “somber and agitated” first movement and tranquil adagio leave you unprepared for the thundering finale announced by the organ roaring to a grand and glorious conclusion.