National Repertory Orchestra presents opening night concert in Breckenridge |

National Repertory Orchestra presents opening night concert in Breckenridge

National Repertory Orchestra's opening concert of the 57th annual summer season will be held at the Breckinridge Riverwalk Center on Saturday, June 11 at 7:30 p.m.
Special to the Daily |


What: NRO Opening Night Concert: “Rhapsody in Blue”

Program: John Williams, arr. Calvin Custer: “Summon the Heroes”; Paul Hindemith: “Symphonic Metamorphosis of Themes by Carl Maria von Weber”; George Gershwin: “Rhapsody in Blue”; Edward Elgar: “Enigma Variations (Variations on an Original Theme), op. 36”

When: Saturday, June 11; 7:30 p.m.

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

Cost: $25-$40, $7/youth 18 & under

More information: (970) 453-5825 or online at

The National Repertory Orchestra (NRO) announces the opening concert of their 57th annual summer season, which will be held at the Breckinridge Riverwalk Center on Saturday, June 11 at 7:30 p.m. This season will include 15 concerts in addition to an array of free chamber performances and community events in Breckinridge and throughout Summit County.

The opening night’s program features four works of the 20th century. These selections are representative of the variety of music written during this time. It was truly a period of exploration and expansion of the musical language, resulting in some of the greatest pieces ever written. Conductor Carl Topilow, embarking on his 38th season, will lead the National Repertory Orchestra as they kick off another summer of music.


Musician John Williams is known for his richly orchestrated film scores and enchanting melodies heard in “Star Wars,” “Jurassic Park,” and “Harry Potter” (just to name a few). “Summon the Heroes” is no exception. It was written for the 1996 Olympic Games in Atlanta and opens with a heroic brass fanfare.

The evening will follow with a piece spanning centuries of music in one of Paul Hindemith’s most popular works. Hindemith was a German-born composer who sought to break away from the Germanic musical tradition. He was adamant about establishing a unique musical voice, even prompting Nazi propaganda minister Joseph Goebbels to label him an “atonal noise-maker.” “Symphonic Metamorphosis” emerged out of a failed ballet production based on the works of Weber. After the project fell through, Hindemith completed the piece on his own, continuing to borrow some of Weber’s lesser-known works. Although Hindemith retained the skeletal structure of Weber’s music, he radically changed the harmonies and added his own themes, creating a vibrant collage of sound. “Symphonic Metamorphosis” is a journey through time, sampling music from each era.

George Gershwin’s “Rhapsody in Blue” has secured a spot in the hearts of musicians and non-musicians alike, and will round out the first half of the program. With one of the most recognizable openings of all time, it begins with a two and a half octave glissando in the clarinet, launching into a jazzy cadenza. Achieving his previous success as a Broadway composer, Gershwin wrote “Rhapsody in Blue” for a concert featuring the newly emerging musical form: jazz. He had not originally committed to writing a piece for the concert, “Experiment in Modern Music,” but was reported to be writing a “jazz concerto” by the New York Tribune only weeks before. Pinned into a corner, Gershwin coincidentally wrote what is now considered a pillar of 20th century repertoire. The solo pianist, Christopher Taylor, has been described by the New York Times as “frighteningly talented” and will stand before the NRO to deliver an imaginative and enchanting performance in Gershwin’s “Rhapsody in Blue.”

The “Enigma Variations” by Edward Elgar will conclude Saturday evening’s concert. These variations are a series of musical portraits. The “enigma” of this work is discovering who is behind each variation. Elgar has disclosed the identities inspiring each portrait, including his close family and friends, and even a close friend’s bulldog. The most well-known variation,” Nimrod,” is a solemn and loving ode to Elgar’s close friend who encouraged him to keep writing through a bout with depression. The set of 14 variations are tied together by the theme presented first, dedicated to Elgar’s wife, Alice. Each variation is distinct and memorable, as relationships in our lives tend to be. The “Enigma Variations” are reminiscent and contemplative, full of beauty, charm and truth.

Sponsors for this concert are Fatty’s Pizzeria, Bob & Nancy Follett, and Barbara Strauss & Paul Finkel.

Tickets for this concert range from $25-40 and are $7 for audience members ages 18 and under. Tickets may be purchased at the Riverwalk Center Box Office, by phone at (970) 547-3100, or online at

Bailey Salinero is the marketing intern for the National Repertory Orchestra.

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