ASO to perform Masterworks II: Dvořák Symphony No. 7

Annapolis Symphony Orchestra performs Masterworks II: Dvořák Symphony No. 7

The Annapolis Symphony Orchestra will present an evening of classical music on Saturday and Sunday, November 4th and 5th at 8 PM at Maryland Hall in Annapolis. 

Artistic Director and Conductor José-Luis Novo planned an incredible evening of music for the Annapolis Symphony Orchestra performance entitled Masterworks II: Dvořák Symphony No. 7.  “I chose the music for this concert because it feels like the autumnal season,” Novo says. “It is full of nostalgia and contemplation. We look back to the past, and think about what the future may bring.” The music is personal for Novo, and his artistic direction comes with a touch of sentimentality.

Franz Schubert wrote Rosamunde Overture, D. 644 in 1819 for playwright and producer Helmina von Chézy. Helmina was known as the “terrible Frau von Chézy” for her lack of writing talent. She asked Schubert to compose incidental music for her play Rosamunde. In it, von Chézy tells the story of a Cypriot princess who seeks to reclaim her throne. It was a phenomenal flop. Sometime after the failed production, the incidental music disappeared. Discovered in 1867 by Sir George Grove and Sir Arthur Sullivan on a trip to Vienna in search of lost Schubert manuscripts, the Rosamunde Overture has become a standard piece in the canon of classical music. 

Maestro Novo loves the story behind the music but he also has personal reasons for presenting it to the Maryland Hall audience. “The Schubert Rosamunde Overture marked my entrance into the world of conducting. In a crazy twist of fate, I was unexpectedly asked to conduct this piece as a younger man during an important tour of Spain. At the time, I was the Concertmaster, but had never conducted the full orchestra from the podium,” Novo recalls. 

“This first time on the platform was an exhilarating experience. I felt like when you are sitting in a chair and the sound of a fabulous stereo system comes at you and you’re blown away, and I almost fainted,” Novo said. His presentation of Schubert’s Rosamunde Overture at this concert will be the first time he has conducted this music since those early years of his career. “There are more memories in this piece than anyone can imagine, and it will be very special to return to this music and present it to our patrons now.”

Lowell Liebermann’s Concerto for Violoncello, op. 132 was co-commissioned by several orchestras, including the Annapolis Symphony Orchestra, for cellist Julian Schwarz. Lowell Liebermann is one of the leading contemporary composers of symphonic American music. “It’s a beautifully written concerto,” Novo says. “Liebermann has a special gift for writing lyrically. The reaction of the audience is incredible, not only because the music is very accessible, but also because Julian Schwarz is so convincing.” 

Novo and Schwarz first met when Schwarz was a student at the Eastern Music Festival in North Carolina where Novo has been on the faculty for over two decades. Since then, they have become close friends and collaborators. “We’ve seen each other often, and heard each other perform many times, so we know what to expect and how to get the most out of each other as musicians and performers,” Novo said. 

As co-commissioners, the ASO was one of the first orchestras to perform the concerto. Significantly, the ASO will be recording these performances for inclusion in an upcoming album for the London-based Toccata label.

Novo chose Antonín Dvořák’s Symphony No. 7 for the emotional drama all listeners feel as the composition unfolds. “The entire symphony is a wonderful trajectory that starts sober and tragic but ends more exuberantly. Two beautiful moments at the beginning of the second movement reveal melodies that no one else could write except Dvořák. Once you hear that, it goes straight to your heart,” Novo said. 

The third movement of the symphony features the energy and rhythm of the furiant, a rapid and fiery Bohemian traditional dance form. While Dvořák may have lacked the confidence of other composers of the romantic era, he begins to grow into his voice with this symphony.  The music reflects Dvořák as a leading composer expressing a distinctly Czech style and incorporates the unique musical traditions of the Bohemian region into a more sophisticated symphonic idiom. 

Novo hopes the audience finds the trajectory of emotions from start to finish to be as moving as it is for him. “This symphony has a beautiful mix of happy and sad moments. This concert will be beautifully nostalgic, the mix between having a smile and a sad face at the time. It will be difficult to discern your emotions or exactly what your mood even is.” 

The ASO’s Masterworks II: Dvořák Symphony No. 7 program will be performed Friday, November 4 and Saturday, November 5 at 8:00 PM at Maryland Hall  in Annapolis. Tickets are available through the ASO’s website, www.annapolissymphony.org, or by calling the box office at 410-263-0907. 

About the ASO

The mission of the Annapolis Symphony Orchestra is to inspire, educate, and enrich lives near and far by creating extraordinary musical experiences with uncompromising artistic excellence. As we celebrate our 61st year in Annapolis, we are more intent than ever on bringing More Music, To More Places, For More People.

The Annapolis Symphony Orchestra offers subscription packages, both for in-person and virtual viewing, as well as tickets for single in-person programs. For more information and purchase tickets or subscriptions, see AnnapolisSymphony.org/events or contact the box office at 410-263-0907.

Media Inquiries

Please contact Diana Love, Director of Marketing and Communications. Phone: 410-267-3631. Email: DLove@AnnapolisSymphony.org