Saturday, November 18, 2023 | 7:30 pm
Sarah Ioannides, conductor
Kelly Hall-Tompkins, violin
Bernstein: Candide Overture
Wynton Marsalis: Violin Concerto
Copland: Symphony No. 3
Tacoma, WA—Symphony Tacoma’s November concert will present selections from notable American composers and one of today’s celebrated violinists, Kelly Hall-Tompkins. The concert will take place on Saturday, November 18, 2023 at 7:30 pm at the Pantages Theater.
“American Fusion is truly an amalgamation of styles that our audiences and the American people have come to recognize as iconic to the classical orchestral repertoire,” says Music Director Sarah Ioannides. “With works from Bernstein, Copland and Wynton Marsalis, this program promises to be a truly vibrant evening of music.”
Leonard Bernstein’s successes as a composer ranged from the Broadway stage (West Side Story, On the Town, Candide) to concert halls where his orchestral and choral music continues to thrive through a catalogue of over 500 recordings and filmed performances. His Candide Overture, which is based on the 1759 Voltaire novella of the same name, will open the concert. Premiering in 1956, the operetta Candide was deemed “a spectacular disaster” by the Herald Tribune. The Overture, however, quickly stood on its own, becoming one of Bernstein’s most popular works for the concert hall.
The whirlwind piece is a cleverly condensed romp through the show’s best tunes, with themes introduced in rapid succession. The opening fanfare is followed by a series of jaunty woodwind solos and a lyrical string melody. All the wit, élan and sophistication associated with the satirical operetta genre—complete with fanfare, pratfalls and a conclusion with “musical sparks”—are apparent in this classic piece.
World-renowned trumpeter, bandleader and composer Wynton Marsalis draws from a diverse range of music histories, incorporating the energy of jazz and blues with Anglo-Celtic and Afro-American traditions in his Violin Concerto. The result is a genre-bending work with sweeping melodies, jazzy orchestral dissonances, blues-tinged themes, fancy fiddling and a rhythmic swagger.
The concerto is constructed into four movements that, according to Marsalis, each represent a “different aspect of [a] dream.” In the Rhapsody, a hushed beginning sinks into a bluesy melody before devolving into the harsher sounds of a nightmare. Rondo Burlesque is a syncopated mélange of styles resembling a Mardi Gras party. Blues is “the progression of flirtation, courtship, intimacy, sermonizing, final loss and abject loneliness that is out there to claim us all,” while Hootenanny is “a whimsical barnyard throw-down.” Celtic and American-style fiddling erupt into a foot-stomping frenzy before the music reluctantly recedes into the hazy atmosphere of the dream’s beginning.
The soloist for Marsalis’ concerto will be award-winning violinist Kelly Hall-Tompkins who was acclaimed by The New York Times as “the versatile violinist who makes the music come alive.” She is the winner of a Naumburg International Violin Competition Honorarium Prize and one of three 2017 recipients of the Sphinx Medal of Excellence, presented to her at the U.S. Supreme Court by Justice Sotomayor.
For thirteen months and more than 400 performances on Broadway, Hall-Tompkins was the “Fiddler”/violin soloist for the Grammy/Tony-nominated Bartlett Sher production of Fiddler on the Roof. She is also the founder of Music Kitchen-Food for the Soul, the pioneering project that brings classical music and musicians into homeless shelters to share the inspirational, therapeutic and uplifting power of music with those experiencing homelessness.
The evening will conclude with Aaron Copland’s Symphony No. 3. Copland’s music is reflective of wide-open landscapes and the fierce opportunity of the American frontier. For him, jazz was the first major American musical movement and he hoped to draw inspiration for a new type of symphonic music, one that could distinguish itself from the music of Europe.
In his Third Symphony, Copland created a sort of abstract Americana with a characteristic open sound that mingles confidence and yearning. The first movement conjures the expansiveness of wide-open spaces with a spirit of nostalgia that Copland championed. An explosive brass section introduces the second movement, followed by energetic tunes reminiscent of Copland’s Hoedown. The lyrically intense third movement leads directly into the final movement in which he quotes his own Fanfare for the Common Man, a resolutely optimistic melody. The great conductor Serge Koussevitsky called Copland’s Third “the greatest American symphony. It goes from the heart to the heart.”
Preceding the concert will be The Inside Scoop, a conversation moderated by historian Kim Davenport with Hall-Tomkins and Ioannides. All ticket holders are invited to participate in this event beginning at 6 pm in Studio 2.
Tickets are on sale through the Symphony Tacoma Box Office. Prices range from $24 to $89. To purchase tickets or season subscriptions, visit symphonytacoma.org or call 253-272-7264.
Symphony Tacoma’s 2023-2024 season is sponsored by Tacoma Creates. The concert is sponsored by Pacific Northwest Dermatology, Ken Walker Jewelers, Pacific Northwest Eye Associates, Ashley Hammond Violins and Northwest Public Broadcasting.
ABOUT SYMPHONY TACOMA:
Building community through music. Inspiring audiences with live musical experiences that transcend tradition, Symphony Tacoma has been a vital part of Tacoma’s cultural landscape for 77 years. Today’s Symphony Tacoma is a metropolitan professional symphony orchestra with more than 80 orchestral musicians and a volunteer chorus of 70. Music Director Sarah Ioannides is renowned for her passionate conducting, creativity, arts collaboration, and commitment to innovation and diversity. Keeping live musical performance rooted in the heart of the region, Symphony Tacoma concertizes for an annual audience of nearly 20,000 citizens throughout Pierce County and the Greater Puget Sound area.