The Breckenridge Music Festival will present a BMF Festival Orchestra Series concert titled “Inspirations from Abroad” on Saturday, July 19. The evening’s performance, under guest conductor Francesco Lecce-Chong, will highlight works by Franz Joseph Haydn, Alberto Ginastera and Felix Mendelssohn.
Orchestra fans are in for quite a ride this summer as the Breckenridge Music Festival presents a once-in-a-lifetime season featuring three talented guest conductors. After 21 years on the podium, maestro Gerhardt Zimmermann is retiring as conductor and music director for the Breckenridge Music Festival. Lecce-Chong is one of the three finalists in the search for a music director to lead the BMF’s Festival Orchestra. Each finalist will conduct two concerts in this summer’s five-week series, giving audiences a taste of how each candidate might lead the next generation of the BMF’s Festival Orchestra. At season’s end, one will be selected to take up where Zimmermann left off.
A native of Boulder, Lecce-Chong has earned a growing reputation and critical acclaim for dynamic, forceful performances that have garnered national recognition. Lecce-Chong is a trained pianist and composer and received his Bachelor of Music degree with honors in piano and orchestral conducting from the Mannes College of Music. He earned a diploma from the Curtis Institute of Music.
About the music
This program includes Austrian composer Joseph Haydn’s Symphony No. 39 in G minor. Haydn, who composed a total of 104 symphonies, is known as the “Father of the Symphony” not because he invented it but because, by experimenting with the range of dramatic and technical possibilities in the genre, he dramatically changed the form for every composer who followed. Nothing specific is known about No. 39 except that it was completed sometime around 1770. It stands out as one of only 10 symphonies that Haydn wrote in a minor key.
This performance of Haydn’s symphony will re-enact the performance practice of the era in which it was written, as Lecce-Chong will step down from the podium temporarily to lead the orchestra from the harpsichord.
Also to be performed in this concert is Felix Mendelssohn’s Symphony No. 3.
“Mendelssohn’s (1809-1847) tragically short life makes his ‘mature’ output all the more impressive,” Lecce-Chong said of he composer. “Due to the symphonies being numbered by publishing date, the third symphony is, in fact, the last of the five symphonies Mendelssohn wrote — at the age of 33. Its inception, however, took place more than 10 years earlier, in 1829, during a three-week stay in Scotland.
“He wrote about his idea of writing a Scottish symphony saying, ‘In the evening twilight we went to the palace where Queen Mary lived and loved. The chapel is now roofless, and at that broken altar, Mary was crowned Queen of Scotland. Everything round is moldering and the bright sky shines in. I believe I found today in that old chapel the beginning of my Scottish Symphony.’”