It’s been since last May that I’ve heard a live classical music concert, so I was long overdue for a fix!
In the first Happy Hour concert of the season, the Columbus Symphony Orchestra put on a delightful concert conducted by guest conductor Stephen E. Squires. Sponsored again this year by the Watershed Distillery and helped along financially thanks to a $250,000 PNC Arts Alive grant, the CSO treated an enthusiastic audience to a performance of Ralph Vaughan Williams, Stacy Garrop and Wolfgang A. Mozart.
On the program last night were:
STACY GARROP: Thunderwalker
RALPH VAUGHAN WILLIAMS: Serenade to Music
W.A. MOZART: Symphony No. 40
The concert started with a piece by composer Stacy Garrop. She and Maestro Squires teach music up in Chicago, and he described her as an almost frail or shy individual. Clearly that shyness is not apparent in her music because it was innovative and exciting, especially the fourth movement of the Thunderwalker which had strange fluttering flute sounds plus the pianist played the strings inside the piano – in addition to just the keys!
Prior to playing each piece, Maestro Squires had the orchestra play a couple of excerpts from each piece to give the audience and idea of what to expect, or something to listen for. I always like it when the conductors talk about the music and teach the audience a little something about the composer or the music itself, such as Vaughan Williams’ Serenade to Music, which was written as a musical version of the Music of the Spheres in Shakespeare’s play, The Merchant of Venice. I’d never heard this piece before, but it was quite lovely.
At the end, Spires asked us, “Wasn’t that stunningly beautiful?” We all applauded in agreement, but it was less about the entire piece and more about the violin solos played throughout by violinist Leonid Polonsky. Mr. Polonsky didn’t look entirely comfortable about being singled out like this, but he played it so beautifully that any kudos were well-deserved!
The final piece of the evening was one known to all, Symphony No. 40 by my favorite, Wolfgang A. Mozart. While discussing it, Squires referred to Mozart’s symphonic writing as
…so pristine in its quality. So pure, so beautiful.
It was interesting because he talked about how it’s said that Mozart’s music is a contrast of the feminine vs. the masculine in music. He called the masculine vigorous and energetic and the feminine lyrical and sweet.
It kind of made me want to read the DaVinci Code again.
He went on to say that with the menuetto as the third movement, it was a nice song and dance in the midst of lots of talking between the masculine and the feminine.
I don’t know. Maybe it’s all a bit too deep because some people are just going to enjoy it because it sounds pretty, but it’s nice, I suppose, to think about alternative interpretations, right?
What an enjoyable evening. So nice to hear live classical music again. 🙂
This was just the first of three Happy Hour concerts that will again be played this season. The next two are after the new year in February and April. Like last year, they’re held in the middle of the week and start with free appetizers and a cash bar about an hour before the actual concert. If you haven’t already, you should seriously check it out. We have an incredibly good and talented Symphony Orchestra in our town and this is a chance to hear them play for free. Don’t pass it up!