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Segal inspires NRO

Kimberly Nicoletti

BRECKENRIDGE – Conductor Uriel Segal will work with the National Repertory Orchestra (NRO) this week, but his definition of “work” is different than most.

“This expression – which is called “to work with the orchestra’ – one has to be careful how you understand the meaning of this “work’ because very often, it means “inspiring,'” Segal said. “Of course, conductors work on technical details, but this may not be the most important (aspect). Bringing one’s own temperament – one’s fire, so to speak – is more important.”

Segal’s fire has led him to an international career. Born in Jerusalem, he debuted in Europe with the English Chamber Orchestra. He has conducted the Berlin Philharmonic, Royal Concertgebouw, London Symphony and Orchestre de Paris, among others. In 1972, he toured Poland with the Stuttgart Radio Orchestra, which was the first West German orchestra to visit the country after World War II.

Currently, he is the music director of the Louisville (Ky.) Orchestra and the Chautauqua Festival in New York.

All of his experience has furthered his love of music. He enjoys working with young musicians because they bring fewer preconceived ideas.

“Young people bring with them a lot of freshness,” he said. “They have less habits, whether good or bad, so one feels that one starts from a blank page to some degree. Of course, there are no innocent kids. Definitely, they know a lot about music.”

Wednesday’s NRO concert features Franz Haydn’s Symphony No. 92, G major, Igor Stravinsky’s “Petrouchka” and Peter Tchaikovsky’s “Valse-Scherzo.”

Haydn’s symphony is nicknamed “Oxford” because he wrote it for the University of Oxford in 1791 when it awarded him an honorary doctorate in music.

“The symphony is very grand by Haydn proportions,” Segal said.

Haydn, who invented the form of the symphony, composed the piece with lyric melodies that contrast with the melodic flight of the finale.

“Petrouchka” is the main piece of the concert. Stravinsky, a Russian composer, wrote it in the early 20th century for a ballet of the same name. The music begins by describing a noisy marketplace and continues to tell the story of a clown who falls in love with the prima ballerina, who does not return his love.

“Stravinsky was always daring and inventive and completely original in what he did,” Segal said.

Violinist Emilia Mettenbrink performs a solo in “Valse-Scherzo.”

“It’s a show piece of sorts, so there’s a lot of spectacular violin work – high, fast, left-handed work and some cool bow directions,” Mettenbrink said. “It has a really nice lyrical section, which gives me a chance to be more sentimental and show the other side of my playing, which I like.”

Since the piece is a bit repetitive, she changes her style and bow positions to make it more interesting to the audience.

“My favorite and least favorite part is the fingered octaves on the last page that can be treacherous,” she said. “Every day, that’s the first thing I practice because I figure the more I do that, the less likely it is to go wrong (on stage.)”

Segal inspired NRO musicians a couple of years ago as a guest conductor, and he’s delighted to return.

“My experience in Breckenridge a couple of years ago was absolutely riveting,” he said. “I loved every minute of it.”

He plans to infect the audience with that love at 7:30 p.m. Wednesday at the Riverwalk Center in Breckenridge. Tickets are $17, $22 and $27 and may be purchased by calling (970) 547-3100.


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