Friday, May 06, 2011

Spring with Vivaldi and the Humboldt Symphony

Humboldt Symphony’s spring concert features two of Vivaldi’s  The Four Seasons, Mozart’s Overture to The Magic Flute and Schubert’s Unfinished Symphony—“some of the most popular classical pieces for orchestra ever written,” said Humboldt Symphony conductor and HSU Music professor Paul Cummings.

Add Benjamin Britten, a modern elegy and a Cinco de Mayo dance, and it’s a generous Symphony program for a Friday evening (May 6) or a Sunday afternoon (May 8) in Fulkerson Recital Hall.

violin soloist Cindy Moyer
 Antonio Vivaldi’s popular The Four Seasons consists of four complete violin concertos: one for each season. Appropriately enough for early May in Humboldt, the Symphony will play the concertos for Winter and Spring. HSU Music professor Cindy Moyer will be the violin soloist.

Almost as familiar as the Vivaldi work is Mozart’s majestic Overture to The Magic Flute. Those who attended the Opera Workshop production earlier this month heard a smaller ensemble play this opera’s orchestral music. This time it’s the full Symphony performing the entire overture—some of the best of Mozart, Cummings said.

In March, the Symphony performed the first movement of Franz Schubert’s eighth symphony, known as the Unfinished.  This time “we finish the Unfinished,” Cummings said, as the Symphony plays both existing movements.

These three popular pieces are ones you’d expect to find on a package of orchestral Greatest Hits, Cummings pointed out. But they have something else in common: “There are some wonderful woodwind and brass solo passages, particularly in the Mozart and Schubert works. This is one of the strongest woodwind and brass groups that I’ve had. It’s a really mature group of students and they can really play.”

 A couple of the less familiar pieces in the program are also accessible: Benjamin Britten’s Courtly Dances are Renaissance-style dances employing modern harmonic twists (though the Symphony did versions of some of these dances in March, this is the complete set as arranged by Britten himself.)

 A nod to the concert’s proximity to Cinco de Mayo, “Danza Final” by the foremost Argentine composer Alberto Ginestera “starts fast and ends fast—it’s just relentless in its driving rhythms,” Cummings said.

As counterpoint to a generally tuneful and rhythmic program, the thoughtful Elegy is by contemporary American composer John Corigliano, winner of both a Pulitzer Prize and two Oscars (Best Music and Best Musical Score for The Red Violin.) This 1965 work in what the composer describes as an American neo-Romantic style was written for a play about Helen of Troy. 

 Humboldt Symphony performs on Friday May 6 at 8 p.m. and Sunday May 8 at 3 p.m. in the Fulkerson Recital Hall on the HSU campus in Arcata. Tickets are $7 general, $3 students/seniors, from the HSU Ticket Office (826-3928) or at the door. Free to HSU students with ID. Conducted by Paul Cummings, produced by HSU Music Department.

Media: Humboldt State Now, North Coast Journal, Arcata Eye, Tri-City Weekly, Humboldt Beacon

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