Orchestra re-enacts wars and dramas | SummitDaily.com

Orchestra re-enacts wars and dramas

Kimberly Nicoletti

BRECKENRIDGE – Musical wars and dramatic dialogues burst into the Riverwalk Center in Breckenridge and the Park Lane Pavilion in Keystone this week.

The National Repertory Orchestra (NRO) performs “Classics” by Prokofiev, Puccini and Strauss at 7:30 p.m. Saturday at the Riverwalk Center and at 3 p.m. Sunday at the Park Lane Pavilion in Keystone. The NRO concert series continues at 7:30 p.m. Wednesday at the Riverwalk Center as violinist John MacFarlane and the Columbus Children’s Choir perform.

“Classics” begins with Prokofiev’s “Symphony No. 1,” known as the Classical Symphony. Then the NRO performs Puccini’s “Chrysanthemums” followed by Turina’s popular “Danzas Fantasticas,” a piece infused with Spanish flavor.

The evening winds up with cellist Norbert Lewandowski and violist Sharon Chung performing “Don Quixote” by Richard Strauss. The piece, based on the book by Miguel de Cervantes, is a dialogue between Don Quixote, brought to life by Lewandowski’s cello, and Sancho Panza, embodied by Chung’s viola.

“It’s a discussion about how they feel about love,” Chung said. “Don Quixote has these lofty ideals about it, and Panza is a little bit more realistic about it. Panza knows Don Quixote is crazy to try to bring chivalry to 16th century Spain, but he goes along with it.”

“It’s a great drama, the novel itself, and Strauss did a good job creating the drama in the music,” Lewandowski said. “It’s almost like acting and recreating the role. It has a lot more blatant drama than a lot of other pieces written for the cello.”

Lewandowski has been reading Cervantes’ book on the side. He recently completed a master’s degree in performance and literature from the Eastman School of Music in Rocchester, N.Y., and performs with the New World Symphony in Miami. He switched from piano lessons to cello lessons in eighth grade when his neighbor, the director of the high school orchestra, needed a cello player. He hopes to play as the principle cellist with the Metropolitan Opera in New York.

Chung also switched instruments, beginning with violin at age 3, then moving to the viola two years ago, at age 21, because she liked the deeper, more resonant sound. She grew up in Buffalo Grove, Ill., and enjoys the NRO because of the supportive environment, she said.

The concert program on June 26 includes “The Chairman Dances” by John Adams, “Daphnis and Chloe Suite No. 2” by Maurice Ravel and “Psalm Trilogy for Children’s Chorus and Orchestra” by Srul Irving Glick, featuring the Columbus Children’s Choir. The program begins with “Concerto for Violin and Orchestra” by Johannes Brahms, featuring violinist MacFarlane.

Brahms introduces the solo violin in the first movement, following a long introduction by the orchestra. His Hungarian style dominates the gypsy-rondo finale.

“When it was first performed, it was thought to be a war between the violin and the orchestra, and at the end the orchestra usually wins,” MacFarlane said. “It’s not a particularly flashy piece. It’s more about emotional expression as opposed to flash. It has a great amount of spaciousness, and it’s a very large work.”

MacFarlane grew up near Iowa City, Iowa, and began playing violin at age 3. “My goal is to realize the music I have in my imagination,” he said. “I’d like to find a way to express that and have it come out in sound for other people to hear.”

Tickets to the concerts are $17, $22 and $27 and may be purchased at the Riverwalk Center Box Office at 150 W. Adams St., or by phone at (970) 547-3100.

Kimberly Nicoletti can be reached at (970) 668-3998 ext. 245 or by e-mail at


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