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Contemporary Composer Reena Esmail with Classical Works in the Richmond Symphony’s Metro Collection at Randolph-Macon College

February 19, 2019


Contemporary Composer Reena Esmail with Classical Works in the Richmond Symphony’s Metro Collection at Randolph-Macon College
Sunday, February 24 at 3pm
Blackwell Auditorium at Randolph-Macon College

February 19, 2019 – Richmond, Virginia: Spend a Sunday afternoon with the Richmond Symphony at the Metro Collection concert: Reena Esmail and Beethoven, February 24 at 3pm in the Blackwell Auditorium at Randolph-Macon College. This eclectic program features work from contemporary composer Reena Esmail, paired with timeless classics by Beethoven and Mozart. Witness the blending of musical traditions and leave inspired by the breadth of connection music fosters.

Reena Esmail is a bicultural Indian-American composer, working between and within the worlds of Indian and Western classical music to create revolutionary works. Esmail brings cultures together through the creation of equitable musical spaces, celebrating distinct trademarks and blending musical traditions. She provides the following comments on her piece, Avartan: “The word ‘avartan’ is used to describe a rhythmic cycle in Hindustani music. In this case, the whole piece is a single cycle that shows what feels like a linear continuum from one pole to the other—from very Indian to very Western—but in the end it returns to the same place.” Esmail holds degrees in composition from The Juilliard School (BM’05) and the Yale School of Music (MM’11, MMA’14, DMA’18).

Mozart wrote the Overture to Don Giovanni, K. 527 after the opera’s final dress rehearsal had been performed. As his wife told him stories to keep him awake and entertained, the composer dozed off, eventually falling into a deep sleep. Upon waking, Mozart wrote and completed the Overture within two hours. Ernest Newman, Mozart’s biographer, insists that the story is true. Composition for Mozart “meant developing the work in his head; he found the business of writing it out rather tiresome, and he would often postpone it as long as he could. . . The Overture to Don Giovanni had been worked out in his head long before . . . all he had to do on that historic night was to put the notes on paper,” Newman said.

Beethoven’s Sixth Symphony, simply put, is just happy music. The first movement is void of the drama and tension that we so often hear in Beethoven’s works. The second – complete with orchestral birdcalls – is lazy and serene, capturing the sounds of silence in nature. The third movement is a joyous folk dance that is suddenly interrupted by a fierce thunderstorm – the fourth movement. This is the only place in the entire symphony that reflects Beethoven’s tempestuous personality. What a storm it is! But, like all thunderstorms, it dies away. After an entire symphony of such unmitigated joy, we have to agree with a friend of Beethoven who said that he had “never met anyone who so delighted in Nature… Nature was almost meat and drink to him; he seemed positively to exist upon it.”

Tickets are $22 for adults, $20 for seniors and active military, and $10 for children and college students. Purchase tickets online at richmondsymphony.com or by calling 1.800.514.ETIX. A free pre-concert talk will be held from 2 – 2:30pm in the Dollar Tree Community Room on the second floor of Brock Commons across from the Blackwell Auditorium. This concert is sponsored by WCVE Community Idea Stations.

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Steven Smith bio
Reena Esmail bio



Sunday, February 24, 2019 at 3:00 PM
Richmond Symphony

Metro Collection Series 3

Steven Smith, conductor

MOZART Overture to Don Giovanni, K. 527









Symphony No. 6 in F Major, Opus 68, “Pastoral”

I. Awakening of cheerful feelings on arriving in the

country:  Allegro ma non troppo

II. Scene by the brook: Andante molto mosso

III. Merry assembly of country folk: Allegro

IV. Thunderstorm: Allegro

V. Shepherd’s Song – Happy, grateful feelings after the

storm: Allegretto



About the Richmond Symphony

Kicking off its 61st Season in September 2018, the Richmond Symphony is the largest performing arts organization in Central Virginia. The organization includes an orchestra of more than 70 professional musicians, the 150-voice Richmond Symphony Chorus and more than 260 students in the Richmond Symphony Youth Orchestra programs. Each season, more than 200,000 members of the community enjoy live concerts and radio broadcasts. The Symphony also provides educational outreach programs to over 55,000 students and teachers each year. The Symphony was recently named one of 21 American orchestras selected as a leader in orchestra innovation by the League of American Orchestras through its Futures Fund Initiative. The Richmond Symphony is partially funded by the Virginia Commission for the Arts and the National Endowment for the Arts. Visit www.richmondsymphony.com for more information.



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