National Repertory Orchestra presents Dvorak, Shostakovich & Huang |

National Repertory Orchestra presents Dvorak, Shostakovich & Huang

Amy Skjerseth
Special to the Daily
The National Repertory Orchestra is proud to welcome guest conductor Mei-Ann Chen, music director of both the Memphis Symphony Orchestra and the Chicago Sinfonietta.
Special to the Daily |

The Breckenridge-based National Repertory Orchestra will present a concert today titled “Dvorak — Violin Concerto,” with guest conductor Mei-Ann Chen and violin soloist Jessica Ryou.

The concert will begin with An-Lun Huang’s “Saibei Dance” from “Saibei Suite No. 2.” The tourist village of Saibei, northeast of Beijing, is celebrated for its beautiful lakes and ski resorts. Characterized by rugged mountains, it is a region from which the composer has drawn many folk melodies for use in his compositions.

“This four-minute work is a perfect show opener: flashy and exuberant, with clarinet, flute and horn solos,” said Douglas Adams, CEO of the National Repertory Orchestra.

This piece’s performance is made possible by a music rental gift to the National Repertory Orchestra library by Annette Hallock.

‘An elaborate choreography’

Next, the National Repertory Orchestra will present Dvorak’s Violin Concerto in A Minor, featuring violin soloist Ryou. Ryou, co-concertmaster of the NRO, is a South Korean violinist who currently studies at the Cleveland Institute of Music under William Preucil. She received her Bachelor of Music at the University of Southern California, where she studied with Henry Gronnier and Margaret Batjer. She recently became a member of the Akron Symphony Orchestra as a first violinist.

“Dvorak will always be one of my favorite composers because he writes such fantastic violin parts,” Ryou said. “With charming melodies and quick turns of character, the violin concerto is like an elaborate choreography between soloist and orchestra. I look forward to performing this great work with such a talented group of musicians.”

Dvorak composed his violin concerto in 1879, around the same time that Brahms and Tchaikovsky wrote theirs. Although Brahms and Tchaikovsky’s violin concertos are performed more frequently, there is something to be said for the unique Czech elements in Dvorak’s concerto. Dvorak’s folk roots are most strongly heard in the concerto’s third movement, which showcases the violin’s virtuosity through many demanding passages for the soloist.

Shostakovich’s First

Featured in the second half is Dmitri Shostakovich’s powerful Symphony No. 1 in F Minor. While many of his later symphonies were grandiose in scale — his seventh, the “Leningrad,” clocks in at about an hour and 15 minutes — his first is performed in about 28 minutes. Shostakovich composed the work when he was only 19 years old as a graduation exercise at the Leningrad Conservatory. An immediate success, the piece quickly identified the young composer as one who possessed tremendous ability at an early age, among the ranks of Beethoven and Mahler. Symphony No. 1 was written in the Romantic style, with a chamber-like orchestration in which several instruments play solos, including a haunting oboe solo in the slow movement.

The National Repertory Orchestra is proud to welcome Chen to lead the NRO in performing these masterworks. One of the most dynamic young conductors in America, Chen is currently music director of both the Memphis Symphony Orchestra and the Chicago Sinfonietta. The impact of her energy, enthusiasm and high level of music making has already been felt by orchestras, audiences and communities alike. Among her guest-conducting season highlights are debuts on the Chicago Symphony subscription series, the San Francisco Symphony Chinese New Year Celebration, North Carolina Symphony, San Diego Symphony, Sao Paulo Symphony and the Tampere Philharmonic in Finland.

The first woman to win the Malko Competition (2005), and recipient of the 2007 Taki Concordia Fellowship, Chen has served as Assistant Conductor for the Atlanta, Baltimore and Oregon symphonies. During her five-year tenure with the Portland Youth Philharmonic in Oregon, she led a sold-out debut at Carnegie Hall, received an ASCAP award for innovative programming and developed new and unique musicianship programs for the orchestra’s members.

Amy Skjerseth is the marketing and public relations intern with the National Repertory Orchestra.

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