The theme of the Chilliwack Metropolitan Orchestra concert on May 23 at the Chilliwack Cultural Centre is an homage to the classic animation of Fantasia.
The original Fantasia was a bold experiment from Disney when it burst onto the scene in 1940 and its popular sequel Fantasia 2000 became globally celebrated animation films set to beautiful classical music.
The CMO concert program showcases several selections like George Gershwin’s Rhapsody in Blue, the first movements from Beethoven’s 5th and 6th Symphonies, the Bach Toccata and Fugue, Debussy’s Claire de Lune, and probably one of the most fearsome pieces of classical music, the tone poem, Night on Bald Mountain, by Modest Mussgorsky.
Internationally renowned pianist Sara Davis Buechner will be in the spotlight as soloist.
Buechner, a graduate of the Juilliard and Manhattan Schools of music, is recognized for her “intelligence, integrity and all encompassing technical prowess” on the piano and will be performing Gershwin’s iconic Rhapsody in Blue.
The featured soloist makes it a point of performing for smaller communities and has graciously agreed to a concert with the CMO in Chilliwack.
“Having appeared at Carnegie Hall, Lincoln Centre, Kennedy Centre and many more we are very privileged to be able to add the Chilliwack Cultural Centre to the list,” said Anne Fleming, CMO spokesperson.
With a repertoire of 100 concertos, Buechner is acclaimed for her virtuosity and is a gold medal winner in the world’s most prestigious competitions.
There will be more than one professor of music taking the stage, including Edward L. Lewis, an accomplished trumpet player, who will also be featured in Rhapsody in Blue.
“Listen for the distinctive muted trumpet notes emulating the sound of a humorous human voice, not unlike Charlie Brown’s teacher.”
Also a graduate of Juilliard, Lewis is a retired professor from the University of Regina and radio jazz columnist on the CBC Saskatchewan show, The Afternoon Edition with Colin Grewar.
He was known as the Jazz Doctor and before becoming a professor, he performed as principal trumpet player with Colorado Springs Symphony, the Regina Symphony, the Radio City Music Hall orchestra, the Phoenix Symphony and soloist for Yamaha International.
The opening bars of George Gershwin’s Rhapsody in Blue are probably only second in fame to the opening notes in Beethoven’s 5th Symphony.
“Our principal clarinet will be playing this most famous of clarinet solos,” said Fleming.
Gershwin found inspiration for the composition from the sound of train wheels on the rails during a trip in 1924. There are versions for jazz band, solo piano and piano with full orchestra for this classical piano concerto with jazz elements. Rhapsody in Blue was featured in the Fantasia 2000 version.
Violinist Sora Takahashi will play solo for Schubert’s Ave Maria as her farewell to the orchestra.
The Ave Maria sequence in the original version was, at 145 seconds, the longest uninterrupted animation sequence of its type in film history.
Elmar Goldsmith, president of the Cascadia Wind Ensemble and husband of principal horn Shannon Goldsmith, has volunteered his time and technical talents to preparing this and other stills and clips for the concert.
Goldsmith will be busy in the tech booth with a stopwatch and script, closely monitoring Met artistic Director Gregory Douglas Johnson to time the visuals with the music.
“He has done this for other music groups and we anticipate that this will provide a wonderful visual element to this outstanding program.”
Chilliwack Metropolitan Orchestra, Rhapsody in Blue, on May 23, 7:30 p.m. at the Cultural Centre. Tickets 604-391-SHOW. Adults $25/students $15.