National Repertory, Breckenridge Music Festival orchestras present Stravinsky’s ballets |

National Repertory, Breckenridge Music Festival orchestras present Stravinsky’s ballets

Maestro Carl Topilow conducts the National Repertory Orchestra. This is his 38th season with the NRO.
Tasha Hoskins / Special to the Daily |

If you go

What: Joint concert of the Breckenridge Music Festival and National Repertory orchestras

When: 7:30-9:30 p.m. Saturday, July 25

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

Cost: Tickets range from $7 to $40, depending on seating.

More information: Call the Riverwalk box office at (970) 547-3100 for tickets, or visit and to learn more

Breckenridge’s two orchestras join forces for their annual collaborative concert on Saturday, July 25, presenting two ballets by Igor Stravinsky, a composer considered by many to be one of the most influential of the 20th century.

Stravinsky enraptured audiences with “The Firebird,” a fairytale piece to be led in the first half by the Breckenridge Music Festival’s new conductor, David Danzmayr. On the other hand, the composer’s 1913 premiere of “The Rite of Spring” — to be conducted in the second half by maestro Carl Topilow of the National Repertory Orchestra — shocked Paris audiences and caused a riot at the Theatre des Champs-Elysees.

Stravinsky pushed the boundaries of rhythm and harmony in his Paris ballets, sometimes to the point of total dissonance. It made him shocking — and famous — a “cause celebre for the avant-garde around the world,” writes Doug Adams, CEO of the National Repertory Orchestra.

“Historically, dance has repeated patterns,” said Marcia Kaufmann, executive director of the BMF. “The waltz is a one-two-three, one-two-three pattern; and polka is a lively two-four. Stravinsky took things to much less predictable timing, with meter changes. Rhythmic complexities and unpredictability are definitely characteristics of both ‘The Firebird’ and ‘The Rite of Spring.’”

“It is interesting to imagine the scene at the Theatre des Champs-Elysees as we listen to the ballet,” Adams notes of the riotous Paris evening. “Debussy and Ravel were in the audience. Debussy rose and urged people to calm down; Ravel yelled ‘Genius! Genius!’ while punches were being thrown around them. … The sheer shattering force of the music, with its almost total dissonance, unexpected shifts and ferocity, could serve as a dramatic soundtrack for the action in the audience.”

Stravinsky is a logical choice for the joint concert because he programmed a number of works for large orchestras, which is what you get when you combine two orchestras. The NRO is made up of 88 musicians from around the world, ages 18 to 28, who earned a fellowship to take part in the summer repertoire in Breckenridge. The BMF Orchestra is a chamber orchestra of 45 professional musicians who return to Breckenridge annually to take part in the five-week summer festival. Together they make 133 musicians, which is too many to fit on stage, but each orchestra will help bolster the other, particularly in the string section.

“One of the favorite evenings each summer is when the National Repertory Orchestra joins with the Breckenridge Music Festival in a joint concert,” said Adams, extending a warm welcome to new BMF artistic director Danzmayr.

“We’ve been doing the joint concert for quite some time,” Kaufmann said. “It’s not something everyone does. The format has evolved over the years between two conductors — one has a piece he wants to do, the other chooses something that complements or contrasts with it. You come up with an interesting program that way.”

Erica Marciniec is a paid writer with the Breckenridge Music Festival.

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