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Performance Details

  • Date Saturday, April 13, 2019
  • Time 8:00 pm
  • Venue Carpenter Theatre
  • Conductor Steven Smith
  • Guest Artists University of Richmond Chorus and Richmond Symphony Chorus
  • Ahmed Adnan Saygun Ritual of Dance for Orchestra, Opus 57
  • Reena Esmail Commission
  • Debussy Nocturnes
  • McPhee Tabuh-Tabuhan
  • Ravel Rapsodie Espagnole

As a grand finale to conclude the University of Richmond’s Tucker Boatwright Festival, the Richmond Symphony Orchestra and Chorus will present a concert of works inspired by non-Western traditions featuring the world premiere of a new work for chorus and orchestra by Reena Esmail as part of our Altria Masterworks series.

Despite disliking the term “impressionism” applied to his music, Debussy describes his three Nocturnes in almost painterly terms: Nuages (Clouds) renders the immutable aspect of the sky and the slow, solemn motion of the clouds, fading away in gray tones slightly tinged with white. Fetes (Festivals) gives us the vibrating, dancing rhythm of the atmosphere with sudden flashes of light. But the background remains persistently the same: the festival with its blending of music and luminous dust participating in the rhythm. Sirenes (Sirens) depicts the sea and its innumerable rhythm. Among the waves, silvered by moonlight is heard the mysterious song of the Sirens as they laugh and pass on. Work on the Nocturnes was not easy for Debussy. His personal life was a wreck. In financial trouble and broken up from his longtime mistress, he wrote, “The three Nocturnes have been infected by my private life, first full of hope, then full of despair, and then full of nothing!”

Like Debussy, Ravel is classified as an impressionist composer. His Rapsodie espagnole, is saturated with musical color; almost as breathtaking as the color of the impressionist painters. There is a certain vagueness of form in the music that is reminiscent of Monet and Turner. “Suggestion and atmosphere” are key ideas for the musical impressionists. Ravel’s fascination with Spanish culture is heard throughout the piece, permeated with the flavors of Spanish music.

In the late 1920s, the Canadian composer Colin McPhee “quite by accident heard [a] few gramophone records that were to change [his] life completely. The clear, metallic sounds were like the stirring of a thousand bells, delicate, confused, with a sensuous charm, a mystery that was quite overpowering.” McPhee moved to Bali where he quickly absorbed the culture. He started incorporating Balinese materials into his own music. Tabuh-Tabuhan was his first large-scale orchestral work to use Balinese musical material. Interested in fusing western orchestral traditions with Balinese motifs, McPhee considers it a purely personal work.

 

Learn more about Steven Smith, conductor.

Program Notes

 

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