This uncharacteristically cold and snowy April signals the close of another exciting season of the Fargo-Moorhead Symphony Orchestra’s Sanford “Masterworks” series with “A Very Grand Finale." This concert promises to be a romantic and bombastic farewell to the orchestra’s audience for the season.
First of all, the evening will begin with the live world premiere of a piece commissioned by the FM Symphony Orchestra for Dr. Dan Breedon, the professor of composition at Concordia College and an accomplished composer in his own right. The piece, titled, “Riding On a Pony: Variations on ‘Yankee Doodle,’” is exactly what it sounds like; different orchestral variations of the classic children’s tune “Yankee Doodle.” Do not let the subject matter fool you however, as the new piece presents opportunities to spotlight many of the orchestra musicians.
The second piece of the evening is bound to be familiar to many of the audience, even if they do not know it by name: Piano Concerto No. 2 by Sergei Rachmaninoff. The piece has been used in countless movie soundtracks and even provided the theme for the hit pop song “All By Myself” by Eric Carmen. Rachmaninoff, an early 20th century composer, is widely considered as a virtuoso of the piano and an excellent composer, even if that appreciation may not have been mirrored in his own time. Composing during a period of great political and artistic upheaval in his native Russia, instead of going along with the experimentalism of his contemporaries, he opted to immerse himself in the Romantic period of Russian classical music.
“He was very much a Romantic,” FM Symphony Orchestra Executive Director Linda Boyd said. “A lot of people at the time saw him as hanging on to the past, but his music has become some of the most enduring in the classical music repertoire.”
She went on to describe the music of Rachmaninoff as “shamelessly beautiful.”
The Rachmaninoff piece will feature a guest musician, the incredibly talented pianist Claire Huangci on grand piano (a grand finale with a grand piano!). A nationally recognized pianist, Huangci has worked with the FM Symphony Orchestra’s very own conductor Christopher Zimmerman in the past, during his tenure with the Fairfax Orchestra in Washington, DC. Her incredible skills with the piano are bound to provide an unforgettable performance of what is arguably Rachmaninoff’s most famous piano concerto.
The final piece of the evening is the third and final part of the composer Ottorino Respighi’s “Roman Trilogy” titled “Roman Festivals”. Respighi, who composed in Italy during the turn of the 20th century, was similar to Rachmaninoff, said Boyd, in the fact that both were unapologetically in debt to the Romantic movement of classical music for their inspiration and compositional techniques. “Roman Festivals” is meant to evoke various different celebrations and festivals, as its name would suggest, including: a Roman gladiator battle, a medieval pilgrim’s journey into the city, harvest celebrations, and people packed into the town square on the eve of Epiphany. Boyd described the piece as a “big blowout” to finish the evening, featuring a number of non-orchestral instruments including a mandolin, military trumpets, a street organ, a drunkard portrayed by the trombone, and even brass players in the balconies! What a way to end the season on a high note.
Bell Bank is sponsoring the final concert of the season. As always, people are encouraged to show up up to 45 minutes before the performance for a free pre-concert talk by conductor Christopher Zimmerman about the show, which is held in the adjacent recital hall just off the lobby.
IF YOU GO:
“A Very Grand Finale”
Saturday, April 14 @ 7:30 PM
Sunday, April 15 @ 2:00 PM
NDSU Festival Concert Hall
Tickets $14-18 students, $30-38 adults
Available at www.fmsymphony.org or (701) 478-3676
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