Columbus Symphony Orchestra

Suites and Songs: An Homage to…

Though this week hasn’t been much better, last week at work was quite a bear.  Last Friday, when the high stress level and general craziness of my workload had me feeling rather exhausted, I decided I needed an escape.  So around 6:30 pm last Friday (I work a 10-7pm mid-shift), I decided that the Columbus Symphony could provide just the escape I needed.  A couple hours’ worth of good music would be just what the doctor would order, right?

I already had tickets last weekend to the Westerville Symphony, which I wrote about earlier this week, that ended up providing an amazing performance of Chopin’s  Piano Concerto Number 1.  (WOW! The pianist was AWESOME!)  I wasn’t however, originally planning on also going to the CSO.  That’s OK, though, because I figured I could get tickets at the door.

So at 7pm, I rushed out of work.  I had an hour to get downtown from the west side where I work, get parked, buy a ticket and get seated.  Friday was a casual day so I was in jeans, but there was no time to change clothes and get into something nicer.  That’s OK – I’d be way up in the rear balcony anyway and I’ve seen people in jeans at concerts before.  Besides – I’d rather be there in jeans, than not at all!

I arrived at the Southern Theatre ticket window about 7:40 where I was able to easily get a ticket in my usual, rear balcony section.  I was surprised however to see that I pretty much had my choice of nearly any seat in any section.  Where were you, Columbus?!  OK Columbus, for your homework, you have to look up the next performance (Hint: 1st weekend in November, lots of Mozart) and buy a ticket so you can be there with me!

Friday’s performance was titled Suites and Songs, but Maestro Zeitouni told us he originally wanted to call it something in reference to an homage…because each of the songs being performed was written in homage to someone else.  On the program:

Respighi: Trittico Botticelliano
Ravel: Le tombeau de Couperin
Peter Lieberson: Neruda Songs

Abigail Fischer, mezzo-soprano
Kim Garrison Hopcraft, narrator

Like many pieces in many concerts, I was completely – I mean 100% – unfamiliar with all the music on the program.  But – that’s why I like coming.  Our orchestra is great and for just $25, I can sit in a comfortable seat and listen to it being performed live!  Trust me – even if I end up not liking something, I am still hearing a great performance and that is well worth a mere $25 and I’m trying something new.  Besides – how often have you gone to the movies where, after buying the ticket, popcorn and soda, you’re out $25 for a movie you may or may not have liked?  Well – same thing here, only at least with the symphony, even if the music isn’t your preferred style, you’re still assured a great performance!  Can you say that about some of the “actors” who make it to the big screen these days?  I think not!  Trust me – the symphony’s a treat – and an affordable one at that!

Say that three times fast

Up first was Ottorino Respighi’s Trittico Botticelliano, (say that three times fast!) written in homage to the Italian Renaissance painter, Botticelli.  It was written based on the “story” told via three of Botticelli’s paintings: La Primavera, L’adorazione dei Magi and La nascita di Venere.  Prior to hearing the music itself, Maestro Zeitouni showed us the three paintings and explained some of the background, so in addition to the music, we had a little bit of an art appreciation class.  Always nice to learn something new and mix in some additional forms of art.

The Respighi piece was definitely my favorite of the evening.  I especially enjoyed the 2nd movement which included some wonderful parts for the wind section – especially the bassoon, flute, clarinet and oboe – which included a bit of a middle eastern feel (we’re talking the Three Wise Men, remember?).  It also incorporated a very familiar tune “O Come, O Come Emmanuel” which you’ll definitely recognize before the 2-minute mark.

I wish I could share a recording of the CSO itself because principal bassoonist, Betsy Sturdevant, had many solos throughout the entire concert and sounded absolutely fantastic!

Throwback to the baroque era

Maurice Ravel paid homage to baroque era composer, François Couperin, with his piece Le Tombeau de Couperin.  I really enjoyed this piece as well, but then again, I enjoy anything to do with baroque era music!  I had the pleasure of speaking to our new concertmaster, Jean-Sébastien Roy, earlier this week for Giocosity.  Super nice guy and I have to giggle because he was surprised that I wasn’t overly familiar with Ravel’s work – especially learning that I’d studied French (and in France) during college.  His surprise was genuine, but I grew up loving classical and baroque eras of music – especially German and Italian composers – so I basically knew anything Beethoven and earlier. Going to CSO concerts and hearing new music has truly expanded my musical horizons.

Last up on Friday’s program was a piece by modern-day composer, Peter Lieberson, called the Neruda Songs for Mezzo-Soprano and Orchestra, paying homage to Chilean poet, Pablo Naruda.  This piece was just written within the last 10 years – in 2005, in fact, and featured a wonderful mezzo-soprano, Ms. Abigail Fischer.  The piece itself was in five parts and each part as narrated in English by a local actress, Kim Garrison Hopcraft, and then sung in Spanish.  I found the sung Spanish difficult to understand so I had to follow with the written word in the program, but wow – her voice was just beautiful!

I really enjoyed this program and though not something I would have planned in advance to attend, it really hit the spot and was quite enjoyable.  I just wish more people could have been there with me, but I’m really happy I went!

My next concert is the first weekend in November: Mozart, Father and Son with horn player james Sommerville as soloist and conductor.  (I still haven’t figured out how he’s going to play and conduct at the same time.  Very curious!) Two weeks after that, is Beethoven’s 5th. My friend and I are trying to get some people from work together to see the Beethoven (And Elgar Violin Concerto).

My 11-year old nephew will be joining us as well for his 2nd ever symphony concert, so that should be fun, though I’m absolutely sure he’ll tell me there weren’t enough saxophones!

Guess what HE plays!

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