The National Repertory Orchestra, led by guest conductor Michael Stern, will present a program featuring the music of Wagner, Strauss, Bartok and more at the Breckenridge Riverwalk Center on Saturday, July 12, at 7:30 p.m.
Bela Bartok is considered to be one of the most influential composers of the 20th century. During World War II and after the Nazis came to power in the early 1930s, Bartok wrote his Concerto for Orchestra, which has become one of his most dynamic, popular and accessible works. This five-movement work strays away from the conventional idea of a concerto — a single soloist against an orchestra — and displays the virtuosic talents of each section within the orchestra. The audience will hear an array of musical styles, including slow, eerie passages, conversational melodies, humorous tones, flurries of sound and whirling perpetual motion.
“A core mission of the National Repertory Orchestra is to provide our musicians with the rare opportunity to perform difficult, challenging works which are part of the core repertoire of major symphony orchestras in America and around the world,” said Douglas Adams, CEO of the NRO. “The Concerto for Orchestra is certainly on that list … and showcases the skill and enthusiasm of our orchestra.”
First half of program
Opening the first half of the program is Richard Strauss’ “Dance of the Seven Veils” from “Salome.” Strauss is known for his colossal symphonies, numerous operas, orchestral imagination and orchestration. One of his tone poems, “Also Sprach Zarathustra,” is a widely known piece that can be heard in various movies to this day. Just turn on the beginning of “2001: A Space Odyssey,” and it will be the first thing you hear. If his other works didn’t already make him popular, the premiere of “Salome” in 1905 instantly made Strauss a star. The music and story are shocking, exotic and salacious, and it’s something you won’t want to miss.
Another notable opera composer, Richard Wagner, is known for his complex textures, rich harmonies and leitmotifs — musical phrases associated with individual characters, places or ideas — giving audiences the chance to use their imagination during his music. The NRO will perform the “Prelude and Liebestod” from Wagner’s famous opera “Tristan and Isolde.” Just the opening chord itself completely changed the face of classical music and brings about so many powerful emotions.
Closing the first half is Saint-Saens’ Introduction and Rondo Capriccioso performed by NRO violinist Victor Beyens. This piece is a showstopper, featuring virtuosic passages and Spanish flair. Beyens is a French violinist from Clermont-Ferrand. He received his bachelor’s degree in violin performance from the Cleveland Institute of Music and is currently pursuing a master’s degree in violin performance under the tutelage of Cleveland Orchestra concertmaster William Preucil.
Guest conducting this concert is Stern, who is currently in his eighth season as music director of the Kansas City Symphony. Stern is also the founding artistic director and principal conductor of IRIS Orchestra in Germantown, Tennessee, a group widely praised for its virtuosity, programming and commissions of new works by American composers. Stern received his music degree from The Curtis Institute of Music in Philadelphia and is also the son of noted violinist Isaac Stern.
This performance is dedicated to the memory of Elizabeth Wheaton Cobden, Sandy Mortensen’s mother. The NRO would also like to thank the sponsors of this concert, Briar Rose Restaurant, Mike Altenberg and Libby Bortz and the NRO Sustainers.
Tickets can be purchased at the Riverwalk Center Box Office, 150 W. Adams Ave., Breckenridge, by calling (970) 547-3100 or going to www.nromusic.com. The Breckenridge Welcome Center, open seven days a week from 9 a.m. to 9 p.m., is also selling tickets. Visit them at 203 S. Main St., or call (877) 864-0868.
For more information about the National Repertory Orchestra, visit www.nromusic.com.
Michelle Lewandowski is the marketing and public relations intern for the National Repertory Orchestra.