National Repertory Orchestra hosts free community concert in Breckenridge | SummitDaily.com

National Repertory Orchestra hosts free community concert in Breckenridge

Benjamin Paul
Special to the Daily

The National Repertory Orchestra and music director Carl Topilow will put on a free community concert on Wednesday, June 17, at the Riverwalk Center in Breckenridge. As the NRO's musicians begin their summer season, this concert gives the audience a chance to hear a wide range of orchestral music and see several showcases for the talents of the NRO's soloists.

The program begins with Johann Strauss II's "Fledermaus Overture." Strauss is nicknamed the Waltz King but was also well versed in the other dance forms of his day. His charming operetta "Fledermaus," which premiered in 1874, is a masterful blend of the era's most popular dances — all of which are in display in the overture.

The harp emerges as a fiery soloist in Alberto Ginastera's virtuosic Concerto for Harp, which premiered in 1965. The Argentine composer is one of Latin America's most important musical voices, often drawing inspiration from the instruments and rhythmic textures of his nation's folk music. Here, he explores every element of the harp's unique timbre, even calling on the soloist to beat a drumming pattern on the side of the instrument in one passionate first movement passage.

"The Ginastera concerto showcases the harp in a way that many people rarely see," said Caitlin Mehrtens, who will perform the challenging solo role for harp. "No piece better proves that the harp is more than the traditional angelic arpeggios."

Mehrtens is pursuing dual music degrees at the Oberlin Conservatory and will perform in Germany's famous Gewandhaus concert hall in October.

The next soloist of the evening is sixth-grader Jeffrey Zhou, the winner of a recent piano competition. He will perform the Vivace movement from Joseph Haydn's Piano Concerto in D Major. Haydn, one of the giants of music's Classical period, laid the groundwork for a tradition that would come to incorporate the wide range of styles and sounds on display in this concert. Zhou has been formally training on piano since the age of 5 and regularly places in advanced competitions.

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David Dzubay's "Ra!" marks the season's second composition by an NRO alumnus. Dzubay played trumpet with the NRO in 1988 and 1989 and is now a professor of music and chair of the composition department at Indiana University. His works have been performed worldwide, and he has won numerous awards for composition.

"'Ra!' is a dramatic, pulsating exercise for the orchestra," said Doug Adams, CEO of the NRO.

The theme of virtuosic flare continues with Pablo de Sarasate's "Zigeunerweisen (Gypsy Airs)," featuring Yuiko Grace Nakano on solo violin. In this 1878 work, the Spanish composer Sarasate adapts themes from traditional Romani music into a thrilling showpiece for the violin. Nakano has a master's degree from the Manhattan School of Music and is currently a member of the American Youth Symphony in Los Angeles.

The concert concludes with a performance of Richard Strauss's 1895 tone poem "Till Eulenspiegel's Merry Pranks." Strauss (no relation to Johann) did his finest work with tone poems, orchestral pieces that describe a narrative or subject through the development of musical themes. His music creates a fairytale setting and interrupts it with the mischievous themes of Eulenspiegel, a German folk hero known for his practical jokes.

While Strauss does justice to his subject's comedic nature, the music itself need not be taken lightly: The great German conductor Wilhelm Furtwangler called the work "a stroke of genius, worthy of Beethoven."

The Summit Foundation and Blue River Bistro are the NRO's sponsors for this concert. The event will not be ticketed, and all seating is general admission. For more information, call (970) 453-5825 or visit http://www.nromusic.com.

Benjamin Paul is the marketing and public relations intern for the National Repertory Orchestra.

If you go

What: National Repertory Orchestra free community concert

When: 7:30 p.m. Wednesday, June 17

Where: Riverwalk Center, 150 W. Adams Ave., Breckenridge

Cost: Free

Program: “Fledermaus Overture,” by Johann Strauss II; Concerto for Harp, by Alberto Ginastera; Piano Concerto in D Major — Vivace, by Joseph Haydn; “Ra!,” by David Dzubay; “Zigeunerweisen (Gypsy Airs),” by Pablo de Sarasate; “Till Eulenspiegel’s Merry Pranks,” by Richard Strauss

More information: Call (970) 453-5825, or visit http://www.nromusic.com