Masterwork Mélange, presented by San Bernardino Symphony
Pianist Rufus Choi scheduled as featured performer for a stunningly evocative evening
On March 26, the San Bernardino Symphony Orchestra will perform “Masterwork Mélange” a classical concert featuring works by Shostakovich, Rachmaninoff, and Humperdinck.
“This is a concert that combines some fantastic elements and will take the audience on a musical journey from the whimsical to the sublime,” said Symphony Music Director and Conductor Frank Paul Fetta.
The concert will open with the prelude to nineteenth-century composer Engelbert Humperdinck’s operatic masterpiece “Hänsel und Gretel.” Written in 1890 for Professor Humperdinck’s nieces, the piece is loosely based on the fairytale by the Brothers Grimm. The full piece premiered in 1893 under the baton of Richard Strauss who called it “a masterpiece of the highest quality.” In 1923, the Royal Opera House of London chose it for their first complete radio opera broadcast and in 1931, the piece was the first opera transmitted live from the Metropolitan Opera in New York.
Audiences will also thrill to Dmitri Shostakovich’s Symphony No. 9 in E-flat major, Op. 70. The original concept for the piece, written in 1945, was as a grand celebration of the Russian victory over Nazi Germany in World War II. But before it was completed, the composer redesigned his work, creating a much lighter, more jovial symphony. It was premiered by the Leningrad Philharmonic Orchestra to significant acclaim, but less than a year later began to come under scrutiny for ideological weakness from those who believed the composer should have more seriously focused on the issues of the day. Presented in five movements, the piece is written in the scale of a Hayden composition with some delicate passages redolent of early Viennese symphonies.
“The visually evocative presentation is juxtaposed with strong satiric overtones which, I believe, will surely engage the audience, and that is our goal,” said Fetta, adding, “It is not enough just to play amazing orchestral music. We must also play music people will become immersed in, music people will love. We want even the newest member of our audience to leave the California Theatre thinking, ‘This was a wonderful experience. I must return!’”
Acclaimed pianist Rufus Choi, will then take the stage to perform Sergei Rachmaninoff’s Piano Concerto No. 2 in C minor, Op. 18. This multi-award-winning artist brings an uncommon passion to his performances and has been featured at the Salzburg Festival, Herrenhausen Gardens, Great Hall at the Tchaikovsky Conservatory in Moscow, National Hall in Taipei, Sejong Hall (South Korea), and Seoul Arts Center as well as at the Los Angeles Music Center and Pasadena Ambassador Auditorium.
The Piano Concerto is one of Rachmaninoff’s most enduringly popular pieces and many believe was responsible for establishing his fame as a concerto composer. Completed in 1901, the three-movement piece was actually written as Rachmaninoff was recovering from a significant clinical depression. In fact, the piece was dedicated to Nikolai Dahl, the physician and hypnotherapist who had done much to restore the composer’s health and self-confidence. Portions of the concerto have been utilized in dozens of movies and even in popular music such as Eric Carmen’s 1975 ballad “All By Myself.”
The full concert begins at 7:30 p.m. with a pre-concert talk by “Shostakovich” and “Rachmaninoff” as portrayed by two of the talented members of the Inland Valley Repertory Theatre at 6:30 p.m. Audience members are also always invited to stay for the post concert reception to meet the musicians and chat with other music aficionados.
“We are focusing on every detail to ensure a thrilling and memorable concert experience for every audience member,” said Maestro Fetta, adding, “Our hope is the diversity of buoyant and lively American music will seize your imagination and delight your patriotic sentiment.”
Up-Coming Concerts and End-of-Season Opportunity
Following “Masterwork Mélange,” one final concert will remain in the Symphony’s 2015-16 season. Wrapping an the year will be the “Finale Bravura!” on May 28. The concert will include Mozart’s Magic Flute Overture and Dvorak’s Symphony No. 8. Emotive Russian cellist Ruslan Biryukov will perform Popper’s Hungarian Rhapsody and Tchaikovsky’s Rococo Variations.
Specially-priced tickets are available for those who wish to purchase tickets for both remaining Symphony concerts. In addition, the Symphony will offer the 2016-17 season at current season prices if purchased at or before the March 26 concert.
All regular season concerts will be performed at the historic California Theatre, 562 W. 4th Street, San Bernardino. Both season and individual tickets may be purchased by calling (909) 381-5388 or visiting the Symphony box office at 198 N. Arrowhead Ave., San Bernardino Monday through Friday from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. Tickets are also available on line at www.sanbernardinosymphony.org, and with limited availability at the theater box office the evening of each event. Military and student tickets are always just $10.
In addition to the regular concert season, this year, the San Bernardino Symphony will also be featured in concerts throughout the region. Visit their website for more information.