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The Richmond Symphony and Featured Violinist Joan Kwuon Celebrate Bernstein’s 100th Anniversary

October 3, 2018


The Richmond Symphony and Featured Violinist Joan Kwuon Celebrate Bernstein’s 100th Anniversary

Altria Masterworks: Beethoven & Bernstein’s 100th Celebration
Saturday, October 20 at 8pm
Dominion Energy Center for the Performing Arts

October 3, 2018 – Richmond, VA: The second Altria Masterworks concert of the season features the Richmond Symphony with violinist Joan Kwuon under the baton of Music Director Steven Smith, celebrating the centennial anniversary of American composer Leonard Bernstein. The New York Times has described Kwuon as a “fiery, intensely musical and impassioned” performer. The program will include Bernstein’s Serenade, after Plato’s “Symposium,” complemented by Beethoven’s Symphony No. 3 in E flat Major, Op. 55, “Eroica” and Dances of Galánta by Hungarian composer Zoltan Kodaly. The concert will be held in the Dominion Energy Center for the Performing Arts on Saturday, October 20 at 8pm.

American violinist Joan Kwuon is widely recognized for her commanding interpretations, graceful flair, and deeply communicative instrumental voice. She commits her artistry to a diverse set of musical periods and styles ranging from Bach and Beethoven to Stravinsky and Takemitsu. She has appeared with leading orchestras of North America, Europe, and Asia, and in recital and chamber music internationally. Ms. Kwuon’s virtuosity and radiant stage presence have been recognized by media including The Today Show, CBS News, Lifetime Television, and National Public Radio.

If the classical music world ever had a “Renaissance Man,” Leonard Bernstein was it. As a composer, pianist, and conductor, he was at home in both worlds of classical and popular music. He started composing his Serenade in 1953 as a response to two commitments: a commission from the Koussevitzky Foundation and a promise to write a piece for violin and orchestra for Isaac Stern. Berstein said of the piece’s construction, “The music, like [Plato’s] dialogue, is a series of related statements in praise of love, and generally follows the Platonic form through the succession of speakers at the banquet. . . .”

Beethoven’s Eroica Symphony was a new approach to writing symphonic music: a symphony that was no longer a collection of loosely related movements. Now, some underlying and often ineffable theme connects them together. In other words, the symphony means something. The first movement of the Eroica, while written in a traditional form, is longer and has more dramatic contrast than virtually any other symphony by Beethoven’s contemporaries. The second movement has a simple plan. It is a slow march with a contrasting middle section—a profound treatment of a funeral march. The third movement, a rollicking scherzo, has a trio section that expects heroism on the part of the horn section. The final movement, based upon a theme Beethoven originally wrote for his ballet The Creatures of Prometheus, takes the concept of themes and variations beyond any previous symphonic treatment. Taken as a whole, Beethoven’s Symphony No. 3 somehow is a musical picture, a “heroic symphony . . . composed to celebrate the memory of a great man.”

Zoltán Kodály was born in the Hungarian countryside; when he was just a toddler his family moved to Galanta in northern Hungary (now a part of Slovakia), a small Hungarian market town known to travelers between Vienna and Budapest. Kodály’s first interaction with “orchestral” music was listening to a prominent regional Romani band that has since disappeared. Kodály worked to preserve these musical traditions in his own compositions, by drawing his principal themes from these original works. He patterned his Dances of Galánta after the Verbunkos, the typical Hungarian military recruiting danceThe first three sections of the piece, in a slow tempo, are the lassú (slow), and the final four sections, with increasingly frenetic tempo, are the friss (fresh).

Tickets start at $10 for adults, and are free for children 18 and under. Visit richmondsymphony.com or call 804.788.1212 for more information.

The Masterworks series is sponsored by Altria and this concert is sponsored by Williams Mullen. The media sponsor for this series is Richmond Times-Dispatch.

Saturday, October 20, 2018 at 8:00 PM – Dominion Energy Center for the Performing Arts

Sunday, October 21, 2018 at 3:00 PM – Mount Vernon Baptist Church

Richmond Symphony

Masterworks 2

Steven Smith, conductor




Dances of Galánta





I. Phaedras – Pausanias: Lento – Allegro

II. Aristophanes: Allegretto

III. Eryximachus: Presto

IV. Agathon: Adagio

V. Socrates – Alcibiades: Molto tenuto – Allegro molto


Joan Kwuon, violin






Symphony No. 3 in E-Flat Major, Opus 55, “Eroica”

I.   Allegro con brio

II.  Marcia funebre: Adagio assai

III. Scherzo: Allegro vivace

IV.  Finale: Allegro molto


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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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