Tacoma, WA— Symphony Tacoma’s March concert comprises elegant and melodic works ranging from the 18th century up to present day. Four works—one each from the contemporary, neoclassical, romantic and classical genres—make up the evening’s repertoire, which will take place on Saturday, March 23, at 7:30 pm in the Pantages Theater.
“This body of work highlights a diversity of musical styles, each inspired by something beautiful in the eyes of the composer,” says Sarah Ioannides, Symphony Tacoma Music Director. “Here in the Pacific Northwest, we can recognize Karel Butz’s reverence of Mt. Rainier’s grandeur, and the romantic in each of us can easily relate to Wagner’s declaration of love to his wife and newborn child. Perhaps not as intuitive are Stravinsky’s wish to reinvent compositions of bygone days or Mozart’s illumination of the play of tones and color between the violin and viola, but each composition is an individual gem that has captivated audiences.”
The program begins with Karel Butz’s Rainier Sunrise (2016), his homage to Mt. Rainier with expressive melodic lines accompanied by lush and open chords. “Growing up as a native Seattleite, I often took for granted Mount Rainier’s majesty,” says Butz. “When I moved elsewhere, where city skylines were the dominant feature, I realized how much I missed the natural beauty and serenity of the mountains… One particular summer hike on Rainier’s Sunrise Trail inspired a melody that wandered through my head and served as the inspiration for this composition.”
Igor Stravinsky’s Pulcinella Suite (1920) is one of the first compositions of neoclassicism, a trend during the 1910s to the 1950s in which composers revived, imitated or evoked the styles of pre-Romantic music. The work was originally commissioned by Russian impresario Sergei Diahilev in an effort to rewrite a handful of scores by Baroque composer Giovanni Pergolesi with the intention of orchestrating them for a ballet. Diahilev wanted a “stylish orchestration,” but what Stravinsky brought him was a dramatically different and new arrangement, much to the chagrin of Diahilev. “People who had never heard of or cared about the originals cried ‘sacrilege’…’leave the classics alone’,” recalled Stravinksy. “To them all my answer was and is the same: you ‘respect,’ but I love.” When Pulcinella premiered in Paris in 1920, it was a triumph and launched Stravinsky’s famed neoclassical period.
Richard Wagner’s Siegfried Idyll (1870) was originally written as a “symphonic birthday greeting” to his second wife, Cosima, to commemorate the birth of their son, Siegfried. It was first performed on Christmas morning by a small ensemble on the stairs of the Wagner’s villa. Cosima recalled the event in her journal: “As I awoke, my ear caught a sound, which swelled fuller and fuller; no longer could I imagine myself to be dreaming: music was sounding, and such music! When it died away, Richard came into my room with the children and offered me the score of the symphonic birthday poem.”
Intimate and personal, Wagner intended Siegfried Idyll for the family’s ears only, but financial pressures eventually compelled him to sell the rights to the score. He expanded the orchestration to accommodate 35 players in order to make the piece more marketable and published it in 1877.
Closing the concert is Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart’s Sinfonia Concertante (1779). This double concerto is viewed as a revolutionary work for Mozart, who assigned equal billing to the solo viola and the violin. Mozart worked as a court violinist for Salzburg’s Prince-Archbishop Colloredo, a role he greatly resented. He discovered in himself a deep response to the sound of the viola and the spirit it evoked—and it became his favorite instrument. It is assumed that he wrote the demanding solo viola part for himself, and he took pains to ensure that it would make a brilliant effect.
Performing the solos are Symphony Tacoma’s own Concertmaster Svend Rønning and Principal Viola Thane Lewis. “Both of these musicians are elegant, highly talented and sophisticated,” comments Ioannides. “How splendid that two of our finest musicians—who know the symphony deeply from the inside out—are providing musical inspiration and leadership as soloists in the execution of the most revered of Mozart’s concerti for more than one player!”
Tickets range from $24 to $85 and are on sale through the Tacoma Arts Live box office. To order tickets, call 253-591-5894 or visit symphonytacoma.org. Rainier Sunrise is sponsored by Pacific Lutheran University, South Sound Magazine and Hotel Murano.
ABOUT THE GUEST ARTISTS:
Svend Rønning is a Pacific Northwest native and joined Symphony Tacoma as its concertmaster in 2000. In addition to his duties with Symphony Tacoma, he is chair of the String Division at Pacific Lutheran University where he is professor of music, and violinist in the Regency String Quartet. One of the most active performers in the Puget Sound region, Rønning is also artistic director of the Second City Chamber Series, Tacoma’s award-winning producer of chamber music concerts and chamber music educational programs. He holds an undergraduate degree in violin performance from Pacific Lutheran University and a Master of Music and a Doctor of Musical Arts degree from Yale University.
Thane Lewis studied with Steven Staryk at the University of Washington, where he received his master’s degree. He served as adjunct string faculty at Northwest University. As a chamber musician, Lewis performed in the Second City, Cascadia Sounds of Summer, Jacobsen, Mostly Nordic, Seattle Symphony Chamber Music Series, Seattle Symphony Young Composers, and the Governor’s Mansion Chamber Series. In 2000, his biography of violinist Steven Staryk, Fiddling With Life, was published by Mosaic Press of Toronto.