Welcome the Festival back to live concerts with a beloved tradition, the Star Spangled Banner, and a special appearance from superstar Israeli Violinist Vadim Gluzman. He’ll bring Mozart’s utterly charming and operatic Violin Concerto No. 3 to life with his extraordinary 1690 Stradivarius. The concert concludes with Franz Joseph Haydn’s final symphony, the “London.” It’s a delightful and deservedly popular work, a crowning achievement by the “Father of the Symphony.”
Mozart had achieved rockstar status in Prague, thanks to the adoration bestowed there upon The Marriage of Figaro. He was, therefore, happy to have the nickname “Prague” attached to this symphony at its premiere in that city. It’s a masterpiece, full of sparkling virtuosity, celebration, drama, and humor. The concert opens with the piece that defines the quintessential American Sound: Aaron Copland’s Appalachian Spring, composed originally as the score to Martha Graham’s ballet of the same name.
Vadim Gluzman partners with Festival musicians to bring you two jewels of the chamber repertoire. Igor Stravinsky’s Suite Italienne is an arrangement for violin and piano of the composer’s score for the hugely successful ballet Pucinella. Tchaikovsky’s only string sextet, Souvenir de Florence, owes its name to a lovely melody he thought of while in Florence working on something else. And that’s as Italian as this (very Russian) piece gets!
Beethoven’s “Heroic” symphony transformed the genre. It was more massive, ambitious, and innovative than any music that had been written before. In many ways, it represents the turning point from classical to romantic music. Heroism, despair, mourning, and triumph are just some of the emotions represented in a piece that uses rhythm and a driving force as an equal partner to melody. Reflecting on Eroica, Leonard Bernstein marveled at “the mysterious genius of a man who is capable of uniting all contradictions into one single, perfect entity.”
Music Director Alasdair Neale hosts an evening of celebration, reflection, and gratitude for our local frontline workers. For the first time in two years, the full Festival Orchestra will take the stage to bring you music to move you and inspire you as we pay tribute to these selfless individuals who have done so much for this community. It’s an evening you will not want to miss!
With a career spanning almost four decades as a soloist, conductor, and Music Director of the Academy of St. Martin in the Fields, Joshua Bell is one of the most celebrated violinists of his era. For the Festival’s Gala, he and his 1713 Stradivarius will tackle an all-time favorite, Beethoven’s Violin Concerto in D Major. It’s a piece written in haste for a violinist with whom the composer greatly admired, and it soon became a cornerstone of the violin repertory. One of the reasons, its loose, lyrical structure—interplaying in narrative between solo violin and the orchestra’s rhythmic themes—which allows the soloist to present it in their own voice.
American Composer Missy Mazzoli, writing about her piece, These Worlds in Us, noted that “we accumulate worlds of intense memory within us.” Mozart must have had a headful of memories when he completed his clarinet concerto in 1791, a couple months before he died. It pairs grace and gravity in equal measure, with the clarinet hinting at a sense of sadness behind its beauty. In the summer of 1873, Brahms recalled a tune he had heard a few years before, attributed to Haydn, and composed his lovely variations based on it.
This concert highlights the music of three American composers. First up is Florence Price’s Ethiopia’s Shadow in America, which charts the arrival of Africans in America. Then, superstar soprano Julia Bullock sings a Sun Valley Music Festival commission, the world premiere of Jessie Montgomery’s Five Freedom Songs based on traditional African American spirituals. And finally, Ms. Bullock will narrate Aaron Copland’s iconic Lincoln Portrait, featuring excerpts from President Lincoln’s speeches, in particular, the Gettysburg Address.
Welcome to the sunny side of Mahler. This symphony, his shortest, brightest, and most performed, leaves behind the brooding, tumultuous, and vast soundscapes of the others for blue skies and childlike innocence. The first symphony to end with a solo vocalist accompanied by orchestra, it builds to the final movement, which depicts “The Heavenly Life.” Soprano Julia Bullock joins the orchestra to sing these verses describing an innocent and serene view of heaven.
Shostakovich’s String Quartet No. 8 was dedicated “to the victims of fascism and the war.” It’s likely a very autobiographical work that features a musical monogram, a means by which Shostakovich inserted his own voice into the musical narrative in a very under-the-radar way. The story is that, upon hearing it played for the first time by the Borodin Quartet, he buried his head in his hands and wept. In contrast, Mozart’s sunny String Quartet K. 465, nicknamed the “Dissonance” for its famous opening, moves quickly from darkness into light and remains there.
Cellist Alisa Weilerstein “is a throwback to an earlier age of classical performers . . . she inhabits a piece fully and turns it to her own ends” (New York Times). For this performance she’ll tackle Schumann’s cello concerto, a piece in which “the romantic quality, the vivacity, the freshness and humor…are indeed wholly ravishing.” This review came from Clara Schumann, who would have known. The program opens with Jennifer Higdon’s beautiful blue cathedral, a piece she wrote in memory of her younger brother, incorporating references to their life together.
The Villalobos Brothers join the Festival Orchestra for an evening of Latin-inspired music. Acclaimed as one of today’s leading Contemporary Mexican ensembles, the trio of violinists, singer-songwriters, and composers have performed at Carnegie Hall, Lincoln Center, and at the 60th Anniversary of the United Nations. Their original compositions fuse and celebrate the richness of Mexican folk music with the intricate harmonies of jazz and classical music. Following the concert with the Festival Orchestra, they’ll move to the lawn, lay down some backtracks, and lead a dance party to Afro-Colombian beats.
Home to some of the most popular and recognizable tunes in classical music, Rachmaninoff’s Piano Concerto No. 2 was an instant success and remains one of the most performed orchestra pieces today. Reviewing Joyce Yang’s performance, one critic noted that she “brought forth from the audience as visceral and sustained a standing ovation as I’ve heard in response to a concerto.” Don’t miss this concert, which opens with the orchestra’s performance of Bedrich Smetana’s symphonic poem, The Moldau, which depicts the journey of that river in his Bohemian homeland.
Often considered Brahms’s greatest chamber work, the Piano Quintet in F Minor had a complex compositional history. Completed in 1864, it began life two years earlier as a string quintet, which was then transcribed for two pianos. In its final form, it is notable for its musical cohesiveness and a brooding quality that ranges from the tragic to the practically possessed. Join Festival musicians for this special chamber concert in the Pavilion.
Plagued by insecurity, Tchaikovsky wrote about this symphony: “I am exceedingly anxious to prove to myself, as to others, that I am not played out as a composer.” Judge for yourself, but there’s a reason this monumental piece makes a great season finale: some of the loveliest tunes ever written, leading to a smashing and triumphant finale. The main challenge most audiences have is holding back their applause until the very end!