Published on September 9th, 2022

We are excited to kick off our 2022-2023 season with a program of works that share a theme of ‘lush romance’.

Saturday, October 15 | 7:30 pm
Pantages Theater
Sarah Ioannides, conductor
Blake Pouliot, violin

Karen Tanaka: Rose Absolute
Korngold: Violin Concerto
Rachmaninoff: Symphonic Dances

Opening the concert is contemporary Japanese composer Karen Tanaka’s Rose Absolute. The New Grove Dictionary of Music and Musicians calls Tanaka’s music “delicate and emotive, beautifully crafted, showing a refined ear for both detail and large organic shapes…” Her love of nature and concern for the environment has influenced many of her works.

Inspired by the scent of a French perfume, Ms. Tanaka describes the work as a ‘floral bouquet for a lover’. “Rose Absolute is the most beautiful and pure rose of roses,” she says. “The image of this composition, sounds and colors came to my mind instantly when I visited the French perfumery Annick Goutal and was handed a beautiful bottle of the perfume with a lovely scent of roses.”

Violinist Blake Pouliot is the evening’s guest soloist. Described by the Toronto Star as “one of those special talents that comes along once in a lifetime,” Pouliot has performed with symphonies across the globe and is known for being simultaneously refined and dramatic with a passion that enraptures his audience in every performance. He is a breath of fresh air in the historically conservative world of classical music. “My attire and aesthetic are a bit different in a world characterized by traditionalism,” he explains. “In order to grow the audience, we need to progress.”

Mr. Pouliot will perform Korngold’s dazzling and melodic Violin Concerto. With compositions laden with unique characteristics—melodic tritones, ambiguous harmonies, melodic sighs, and leitmotifs—that translated beautifully to music for films, Korngold is credited with bringing a sophisticated language to film in Hollywood’s Golden Age. All the main themes from the concerto are derived from film scores, including Korngold’s Oscar-winning score to Anthony Adverse. Far from being a medley of movie themes, however, Korngold substantially reworked and developed his melodies into a truly symphonic structure.

Closing the program is Rachmaninoff’s Symphonic Dances, the composer’s final major work that combines the lush romanticism of his earlier style with concise, less emotional ideas that come with the wisdom of age. With energetic rhythms and some of his lushest harmonies, Rachmaninoff evokes memories of the Russia he had known in his younger days as well as his lifelong fascination with ecclesiastical chants.

While the work represents a modernization of Rachmaninoff’s musical style, numerous references to his earlier works are blended throughout. “I am a Russian composer, and the land of my birth has influenced my temperament and outlook,” he wrote. “My music is the product of my temperament, and so it is Russian music… What I try to do when writing down my music is to make it say simply and directly that which is in my heart when I am composing. If there is love there, or bitterness, or sadness, or religion, these moods become part of my music, and it becomes either beautiful or bitter or sad or religious.”

We hope you can join us!