Tulsa Symphony Orchestra opens its 2010-2011 season on Saturday, Sept. 11 at 7:30pm with a program titled "Resilience of the Human Spirit." It is, in part, a homage to the tragedy of Sept. 11, 2001.
The concert features Mendelssohn's Overture to A Midsummer Night's Dream, op. 21; Brahms' Variations of a Theme of Haydn, op. 25a; and Shostakovich's Symphony No. 5 in D minor, op. 47.
Alastair Willis serves as the guest conductor.
TSO will dedicate the concert to the music teachers of greater Tulsa, "whose talent, devotion and dedication enhance our community, inspire our youth and perpetuate Tulsa's rich legacy of musical performance, appreciation and understanding," TSO's Executive Director Ron Predl said.
"The Sept. 11 concert will recognize the Union Public School Board of Education and music faculty for their good work," he said.
TSO has also invited members of the police, fire department and emergency services to attend the concert as its guests. They will be recognized by Predl at the concert.
Mendelssohn's Overture to A Midsummer Night's Dream, op. 21 was first performed publicly in February of 1827. As a young man, Mendelssohn was captivate by Shakespeare's tale and would often act out the roles with his sister Fanny. He dedicated the work to the crown prince of Prussia.
"In 1843, when the prince had become King Friedrich Wilhelm IV, he asked Mendelssohn to write some incidental music for a production of A Midsummer Night's Dream in the theater of his new palace in Potsdam," writes Susan Halpern in the program notes for the piece. "One of the great marvels in the history of music is the uniformity of style, spirit and skill in the music that Mendelssohn wrote when he was seventeen and that which he composed when he was twice that age...
"Mendelssohn achieves, above all, a musical interpretation of the play's themes and characters through a variety of means," Halpern writes. "The hushed, scurrying sound of the strings of the first subject evoke the flurry of fairies' wings. Later, repeated, descending pizzicato lines provide an aura of suspense, as the listener becomes unclear about where the music is going tonally. The only directly obvious moment where characterization is definitely evident is in the accented leaps in the violins and clarinets as they give a hilarious impersonation of Bottom's donkey brays."
Brahms' Variations of a Theme of Haydn, op. 25a is based on suites believed to be composed by Joseph Haydn in the 1780s or '90s for wind instruments. A historian showed them to Brahms, who was immediately taken by them.
"The Variations is the only major work of Brahms for which detailed preliminary sketches exist; they indicate that he had been working over the musical possibilities of the chorale in his mind long before he wrote the variations down," writes Halpern in her program notes.
"He spent the summer of 1873 writing the composition and creating two versions of variations. The one published as Op. 56a was his first purely orchestral composition in 14 years."
The work is scored for two flutes, piccolo, two oboes, two clarinets, two bassoons, contrabassoon, four horns, two trumpets, tympani, triangle and strings.
Shostakovich's Symphony No. 5 in D minor, op. 47 is arguably the composer's most popular work.
He once said: "The theme of my symphony is the making of a man. I saw man with all his experiences at the center of the composition ... In the finale the tragically tense impulses of the earlier movements are resolved in optimism and the joy of living."
He composed it as a celebration of the 20th anniversary of the Russian Soviet Socialist Republic.
"The theme of my symphony is the stabilization of a personality," he said. "In the center of this composition -- conceived lyrically from beginning to end -- I saw a man with all his experiences. The finale resolves the tragically tense impulses of the earlier movements into optimism and joy of living."
Halpern writes: "Throughout its four movements, the symphony abounds in easily recognizable themes and in sustained passages of lyrical beauty, yet it also has a constant, pressing intensity."
The concert's guest conductor, Willis, is a Grammy Award nominee who has served as the associate conductor of the Seattle Symphony, assistant conductor with the Cincinnati Symphony and Pops Orchestras, and music director of the Cincinnati Symphony Youth Orchestra.
Prior to the concert's beginning, audiences will have the opportunity to converse with Willis via an "Inside the Actor's Studio"-like setting, hosted by the Arts and Humanities Council of Tulsa's Director Ken Busby.
That program begins at 6:30pm in the Tulsa Performing Arts Center's Kathleen P. Westby Pavillion. The concert begins at 7:30pm in the Chapman Music Hall. Tickets are $10-$65 at tulsapac.com, and the PAC is at 110 E. 2nd St.
At the Nightingale Theater, 1416 E. 4th St., the Midwestern Theatre Troupe continues its run of Tom Eyen's "Women Behind Bars."
Eyen's 1975 play satirizes black-and-white women-in-prison movies from the 1950s, which played on every possible stereotypical scenario and employed actresses who were famous for their overly dramatic portrayals of damsels in distress.
The play, directed by John Cruncleton and set in the Women's House of Detention in Greenwich Village, Manhattan, spans seven years, beginning on New Year's Eve 1952 and ending on New Year's Eve 1959.
It continues its run Sept. 10-11. Tickets are $10 and available at nightingaletheater.com or by calling (918) 633-8666.
Share the Wealth
This weekend, Sept. 9-12, Broken Arrow Community Playhouse presents Spreading it Around, a light-hearted comedy that finds a wealthy widow living in a retirement community in Florida.
When she grows tired of footing the bills and handing out money to her unappreciative children, she and some of the other residents start the S.I.N. (Spending It Now) Foundation, an organization that gives to those really in need.
Fearing they will lose their inheritance, her greedy son and his shopaholic wife show up to try to have her committed for incompetence.
The show begins at 8pm each night except Sept. 12, when it begins at 2pm, at The Main Place, at 1800 S. Main St. in Broken Arrow. Tickets are $13 at bacptheatre.com
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