Imagine a concert with a program that delves into the agony and the ecstasy of the human condition.
Two pieces of classical music by Mozart and Beethoven are in the spotlight at the Chilliwack Metropolitan Orchestra concert on Nov. 1 in the Hub International Theatre of the Cultural Centre.
“I love Beethoven,” CMO Artistic Director Gregory Douglas Johnson says. “He connects with people on a human level.”
Johnson selected Beethoven’s Symphony No. 7 in A Major in celebration of the CMO’s seventh season.
“It’s a rhythmic tour de force,” says Johnson about the 7th Symphony. “It’s all in the movements, there is a repetitive rhythm, but what he does with it is magical.”
The concert premiere was in 1813 and was considered one of Beethoven’s most successful concerts. It was immediately recognized as both artistically great and hugely popular.
Part of the “agony” part of the description comes from the fact that Beethoven never got to hear this symphony as he was going deaf when he wrote it. But he came to grips with it ultimately, to triumph on the other side, writing brilliant music.
“He found peace and it’s in the whirlwind joy in the last movement.”
This piece is special to Johnson, and he remembers rehearsing and conducting a performance of the symphony with the Winnipeg Symphony Orchestra while studying for his master’s degree.
“He starts with a simple ascending scale but how he layers it and structures it gives you an amazing sense of time and space.”
Tchaikovsky spoke of the finale as pure, unrestrained bliss, and capturing the pleasure of living.
Whereas the first movement is dark and foreboding, the second is described as “perhaps the most beautiful piece of music ever written” and is often performed on its own.
In fact the second movement is often said to be Beethoven’s most popular composition.
This will be Johnson’s second concert with the CMO, after coming on-board with the CMO last season. He’s a school music teacher and conductor who grew up in Langley, as well as a coach and a flute player.
The ecstasy will be represented by the Mozart Concerto for Flute and Harp.
The opening Overture of the evening, The Abduction from the Seraglio, is taken from the opera of the same name by Mozart. The exotic setting of Turkey was very popular at the time of writing and the music, full of percussion and exuberance, has a Turkish flavour. The opera tells the story of the abduction of a Sultan’s wife from the palace Seraglio or Harem.
Where Beethoven paints the agony after the intermission, Mozart is bright and echoes the ecstasy.
“It’s gorgeous,” he says about Mozart in the first half of the concert, and in the opening overture.
“He’s intimate but he’s also outgoing and playful.”
Both the Mozart Concerto for Flute and Harp K 299 and Beethoven’s Symphony No. 7 in A Major will be performed as a special celebration for the opening concert of the CMO’s seventh season.
The Mozart Flute and Harp concerto was written in 1778 as a salon piece suited to highlight the delicate nature of both of the solo instruments, flute and harp. Curiously Mozart did not particularly like the flute and found it a burden.
CMO Principal Flute and concert soloist Sarah Dyck finds it “amazing that he would compose a concerto so full of wonderful phrasing, harmony and interplay between the flute and the harp for an instrument he really did not care for.”
The harp, as an orchestral instrument, was still early in its development and it is consider to be a rather unusual combination of instruments for the time.
Guest harpist Kaori Otake, describes the concerto as a “fun concerto to perform with a full orchestra and that it is an easy composition for an audience new to classical music to appreciate.”
For Otake, this will be a farewell concert as this graduate of the Curtis Institute, Indiana University and the Julliard School of Music will soon be returning to her native Japan to live and get married. Both Dyck and Otake have performed the concerto but this will be the first time that they have performed together and are looking forward to the concert.
Both Dyck and Otake are Chilliwack music teachers.
Dyck is teaching from her music studio in her home and Otake is a teaching member of the Chilliwack Academy of Music. Dyck, a BA graduate from University of Victoria School of Music, has been performing with the CMO in first desk since the orchestra was founded seven years ago. She has performed more than one solo with the CMO including a full Concerto. She is seen and heard playing in many different local groups as she gives freely of her training and talent because of her love of music.
Romancing the Flute and Harp is presented by Chilliwack Metropolitan Orchestra, Nov. 1, Hub Intl Theatre in the centre, $25/15. 604-391-SHOW (7469) firstname.lastname@example.org