The Breckenridge Music Festival and National Repertory Orchestra will join forces for “The Joint Concert of the BMF and NRO” on Saturday, July 26, at the Riverwalk Center in Breckenridge. The evening’s performance, led by BMF conductor Gerhardt Zimmerman and NRO conductor Carl Topilow, will highlight works by Ralph Vaughan Williams, Maurice Ravel and Richard Strauss.
Jack and Pat Thomas, along with KCME, KUNC, KUVO, RMPBS and SPR-TV, are sponsoring this collaborative effort. The Thomases are longtime supporters of both orchestras.
“My wife, Pat, and I love music and the people that make the music,” Jack said. “From a very early age, I was involved in music in the small farm community where I grew up. We were blessed to have a wonderful music program in the school with great support from the community.
“This community is surely blessed to have two great orchestras in the summer. They had joint concerts some time ago and then stopped. I was in a position to help them restart playing together. It provides an opportunity for less experienced NRO people to play with the professional BMF musicians and perform great music, which often requires larger orchestras. Pat and I support both groups with pride and pleasure.”
Rising stars, professionals
Through an intensive and unique fellowship program, the NRO changes the lives of young musicians and enriches the lives of Colorado residents and visitors. While the NRO prepares young musicians to be professional orchestra musicians, the BMF helps to sustain those professional musicians’ careers. The BMF Orchestra is an established ensemble of professional musicians drawn from symphonies across the nation, in residence for the summer season. Many also hold faculty positions at universities in their home regions. The two orchestras work together very well in the town of Breckenridge — in fact, nearly a quarter of the BMF musicians were once NRO musicians.
The evening’s program includes English composer Ralph Vaughan Williams’ “Fantasia on a Theme by Thomas Tallis.” The Tallis Fantasia, scored in 1909, was written during a time when musical fashion trended toward the avant-garde. Contrary to the trend, Williams stayed loyal to the melodies and motifs of the British Isles.
“Every composer cannot expect to have a world-wide message, but he may reasonably expect to have a special message for his own people, and many young composers make the mistake of imagining that they can be universal without at first having been local,” Williams wrote.
The Fantasia features a string quartet accompanied by the orchestral strings divided into two groups for back-and-forth interplay.
Also included in this evening’s program is French composer and pianist Maurice Ravel’s “Rapsodie Espagnole.” The piece, completed in 1907, is a suite of four movements and an extravagantly Spanish showpiece for a large orchestra. For someone so thoroughly French, Ravel’s natural style seems a fine fit with the Spanish sound. The four short movements of “Rapsodie Espagnole” include a prelude, two dances and a lively finale in about 16 minutes. The prelude sounds a bit sinister, with high violins and low violas; the first dance is lively, the second is brooding and the fourth movement is the longest, a holiday celebration wrapping up with a riotous ending.
Closing number FIT FOR A HERO
The final element of the evening is Bavarian composer Richard Strauss’ “Ein Heldenleben,” Tone Poem for Large Orchestra, op. 40. What outraged some critics at its premier was that the implied hero turned out to be none other than Strauss himself. While he made comments like, “I’m no hero: I’m not made for battle,” and later wrote that the hero was “not a single poetical or historical figure, but rather a more general and free ideal of great and manly heroism,” he was still only 35 years old when he declared himself a “hero.” For a time, Strauss inspired a following that considered him the greatest composer and the greatest conductor in the world.
“Putting aside that controversy over the identity of the hero, the music of ‘Ein Heldenleben’ is sensational: lively, full of life and color,” said Doug Adams, executive director of the NRO.
For tickets or more information, call (970) 547-3100 or visit www.breckenridgemusicfestival.com.