Tracker Pixel for Entry

​A long-awaited homecoming for PDQ Bach

by John Showalter | .(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address) | Music | March 8th, 2017

Those who have been following the Fargo-Moorhead Symphony Orchestra during the 2016-2017 season realize that their concerts have been evoking a more personal, intimate feeling. Whether it was the “Intimate Tango” of this January, the “Orchestra and Guitar” of November 2016, or “The Great Romantics” of September 2016, the Masterworks series has focused on a more earthy, passionate relationship with the audience than the equally astounding blockbuster-themed previous season.

This concert promises to be the most personal yet this season. At the very least, it will certainly have a youth-oriented appeal. The first half of the concert will feature the talents of the young musicians in the F-M Area Senior High Youth Symphony, who will be playing alongside the standard symphony orchestra. After that, the second half of the concert will mark the long-awaited homecoming of one of Fargo’s own musically-gifted native sons, Peter Schickele, also known as PDQ Bach.

This evening will mark a great experience for the aspiring musicians in our community. FM Symphony Orchestra director Linda Boyd said, “Typically the strongest players sit in front. That way they are closer to the audience and more likely to be heard.” However, during the night of this concert the young musicians will be the ones seated in front, with the more experienced members in back. “It gives the students the best possible experience,” said Boyd.

The youth symphony will be performing Norwegian Dance No. 1 by 19th century Norwegian composer Edvard Grieg. Grieg is perhaps best known for the incidental music he wrote to be played during the performance of famed Norwegian playwright Henrik Ibsen’s play “Peer Gynt.” In particular, “Morning Mood” and “In the Hall of the Mountain King” have seen use in any number of golden age animations. The piece promises to be a nice little jaunt for both the audience and the orchestra.

The crown jewel of the evening, however, is the return of Peter Schickele to his old stomping grounds. While not born in Fargo, his parents moved here when he was young. Growing up in the 1950s, his love of music led him not only to play bassoon in the FM Symphony as a student, but to play chamber music privately for individuals around town. From there he went to study music at Juilliard and found he had a great skill for creating parodies of classical music, which jump-started his career.

Taking on the performance name of “PDQ Bach,” Schickele went on to make his name as a parodist of classical music, almost a “Weird Al” of classical. “He was the closest thing we had to a counterculture figure in classical music,” said Boyd, who fondly remembered listening to his work as a student herself.

Schickele’s work as PDQ Bach has led to him winning the Grammy for best comic album four years in a row. Not only that, but he would host a show on National Public Radio called “Schickele Mix,” where he introduced thousands of listeners to his eclectic taste in music.

Being in his early 80s now, it almost seemed as if health problems would keep Schickele from attending this concert, but fortunately he has made a recovery and will not only be attending, but will also be performing and speaking at “Urban Overture” at the Radisson Downtown on Wednesday, March 15th, which is free to the public and features music and hors d’oeuvres. Those who are interested may also wish to attend a talk that Schickele will be giving on Friday, March 17 at the NDSU Beckwith Recital Hall, titled “My Fargo Memoir.” Tickets are available on the Fargo-Moorhead Symphony website.

Schickele’s contribution to this concert will be twofold. Following the side-by-side performance with the youth symphony, the orchestra will play “The Carnival of the Animals” by French composer Camille Saint-Saens. Already a lighthearted piece of music on its own, it has inspired a number of different people to pen narrations to go along with the different segments, from Ogden Nash to our very own Peter Schickele. The plan had originally been to narrate himself, but due to the aforementioned health issues, Pam Strait of Theatre B stepped up to perform Schickele’s narration.

To complete the evening, guest pianist Jeffrey Biegel and the orchestra will perform a new piece by PDQ Bach himself titled, “Concerto for Simply Grand Piano and Orchestra!” Biegel commissioned the project two years ago, having spearheaded it with several large donors and a consortium of sixteen orchestras (including the Fargo-Moorhead Symphony Orchestra). Schickele gladly accepted the commission to compose a new piano concerto for Biegel, as well as giving Fargo-Moorhead Symphony Orchestra the opportunity for its performance as one of its primary backers. 

The piece made its debut in Colorado, but circumstances are such that this will be the first time that the composer himself has been able to attend a live performance of his new piece. Hearing his newest piece for the first time in his very own hometown is bound to be the highlight of the evening for Mr. Schickele, and who knows, perhaps the highlight of his year!

This upcoming concert is proof that classical music can be fun and approachable. And with one of Fargo’s talented native sons returning to his home soil and gracing us with his newest work, the concert and events leading up to it are bound to be memorable.

IF YOU GO:

Fargo-Moorhead Symphony Masterworks IV concerts with guest artist Jeffrey Biegel

Saturday, March 18 at 7:30 pm

Sunday, March 19 at 2:00 pm

NDSU Festival Concert Hall

Tickets: $30-$38 adult, $15-$18 Student

www.fmsymphony.org or at the door

Recently in:

Alt White: The Siege of North Dakota. Part five in the series on racism in North Dakota. The state is no stranger to hate groups seeking attention, and while Pioneer Little Europe and the Creativity Movement form hit lists of North…

I have purchased many computer printers in my time, some good, some bad, some terrible! It has always been a necessary evil to have a printer on your desk. Early dot matrix printers were a nightmare to keep running, keep the paper…

Friday, April 28, Various timesMarcus West Acres Cinema, 4101 17th Ave, FargoThis movie, based on the award-winning novel by Kent Nerburn, is a story about a road trip through Minnesota and the Dakotas showing the beauty, tragedy,…

We’re living through hard times, but they are hard times with an important basic amenity: strong, tasty beer and ale, brewed by independent craft brewers. When did it all start? Historians are in disagreement. In 1976, the low…

Are we nearing the end of the human race?Moore’s Law is a rather simple observation made by Gordon Moore back in 1965 when he founded Fairchild Semiconductor and Intel, two very important computer chip makers. He remarked that he…

The moment of truth has arrived. After seven weeks of sampling and judging some of the finest libations in the area the results for this year’s Cocktail Showdown have arrived. Christopher Larson, Raul Gomez and Sabrina Hornung…

All About Food

​Twist

by Logan Macrae

On Saturday at 4:40pm I headed into Twist to grab a quick bite to eat before work. I was promptly greeted by one of their friendly serving staff. I was in a bit of a hurry as I worked at 5:30pm and I needed to get in and out, and…

By Sabrina Hornung and Tom Bixby sabrina@hpr1.comGoing back in time for one night only, the Sidestreet Grille presents a powerfully nostalgic show. You’ll remember where you were and what you shouldn’t have done!And how to…

Now on Netflix instant watch and not to be missed is director Keith Maitland’s “Tower,” one of the most memorable and gripping films of 2016. Carefully, even meticulously, constructing a moment-by-moment chronological account…

Arts

Gardens Galore!

by Sabrina Hornung

After months of planning, a theme was chosen. This year the Plains Art Spring Gala totes a decadent Art Nouveau-inspired theme with Gardens Galore. Art Nouveau imagery is known for its flowing, organic, nature-inspired forms as it…

Ovid’s mythological tales undergo dramatic transformation by award-winning director/playwright Mary Zimmerman as Concordia, MSUM, and NDSU deliver theatrical productions of three of her modern takes on his work.Concordia’s…

Humor

​Talking to strangers

by Sabrina Hornung

“I don’t have a tour, like, on the back of a sweatshirt,” comedian Paula Poundstone says. “I go out every weekend. This weekend I went out Friday, Saturday and Monday. Mostly it’s Friday/Saturday or Thursday through…

If you are at all like me, you have been itching to fire up the grill and get down to some outdoor cooking. If you and I are really alike, you probably almost always have a beer in one hand when there’s a grilling utensil in the…

What are essential oils anyway? Have you been hearing a lot about them, smelled them, and perhaps even purchased them but have no idea what they are or what they do?You are not alone. The essential oil industry is a booming one,…

Live and Learn

​The other shoe

by HPR Contributor

By Elizabeth Nawrotnawrot@mnstate.eduI look up from my hotel lobby breakfast astonished to see a framed print of Wassily Kandinsky's "Mit und Gegen,” a masterpiece of color and composition that just happens to be my favorite…

The North Dakota State Water Commission has violated state law more than 600 times in recent years by issuing permits for industrial use of water (read: fracking oil wells) from the Little Missouri State Scenic River. Employees…