Tuesday, June 30, 2009

Fourth of July Concerts: HSO on the Road

This is the weekend for 4th of July Celebrations across the land and, as I mentioned in the previous post, the Harrisburg Symphony will be on the road performing five free concerts around the region: on both banks of the Susquehanna (West Shore and downtown Harrisburg), at Lebanon Valley College in Annville, at Dickinson College in Carlisle and at East Juniata High School in McAllisterville.

Stuart Malina will be conducting a program that will include Offenbach’s “Orpheus in the Underworld” with its famous “Can-Can,” music from “Raiders of the Lost Ark” and “West Side Story,” the “Col. Bogey March” (better known for its use in the film, “Bridge over the River Kwai”) and Leroy Anderson’s “Bugler’s Holiday” plus musical tributes to the Big Band era and the Armed Forces. Odin Rathnam, the orchestra’s concertmaster, will be the soloist for a virtuosic take on famous themes from Bizet’s most popular opera, Pablo de Sarasate’s Carmen Fantasy.

If the “Col. Bogey March” was sung during World War II to rather low-class lyrics referencing Hitler's anatomy, there’s also Allan Sherman’s “You Went the Wrong Way, Old King Louie,” a tongue-in-cheek salute to Bastille Day and the French Revolution which the orchestra will perform in Malina's own arrangement.

What would a summer concert of American patriotic music be without a musical salute to Napoleon’s invasion of Russia? I’m not sure why Tchaikovsky’s 1812 Overture has caught on with our country‘s 4th of July concerts – aside from the fact it’s really cool music – but try and NOT play it! I know it’s been a standard fixture of the Harrisburg Symphony’s summer concerts since the Barge Concerts were first initiated along the river in the 1980s.

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Now, programs are as susceptible to change as the weather forecast. While Thursday is the only day so far that looks like there might be a chance of showers, things are looking pretty good. However, should showers kick in after a concert’s started, it’s possible the program will be shortened.

Here’s a little more information about each performance: remember, all of them are free to the public but the indoor ones have limited seating.

On Thursday, the orchestra plays at Negley Park in Lemoyne at 8pm with pre-concert entertainment from 6:30 to 7:20 with the Consagra Jazz Combo. The Boy Scouts’ color guard presents the flag and then the National Anthem will be sung a cappella by the Cedar Cliff Chamber Choir. (Rain location: Washington Heights Elementary School just a few blocks away on Lemoyne's Walnut Street.) Sponsored by the Community of Lemoyne. [Update re:parking - this from the Lemoyne Police by way of the Patriot-News.]

On Friday, the orchestra plays at the American Music Fest on the Comcast Star Stage along the river in downtown Harrisburg. This performance begins at 8:30pm and will conclude with fireworks. Though the forecast is looking pretty good for the weekend, Justin Case tells me the rain location will be the Forum at N. 5th & Walnut Streets (without fireworks, btw). Sponsored by Dauphin County Commissioners.

Then on Saturday, rain or shine, the orchestra performs in Lutz Auditorium of Lebanon Valley College, Annville at 7:30. Sponsored by Lebanon Valley College.

Sunday evening’s performance will be at Carlisle’s Summerfair on the Rush Campus of Dickinson College beginning at 7:30 with a rain location at the Carlisle Theater at 40 W. High Street. Sponsored in part by Orrstown Bank. Senator Pat Vance assisted in obtaining additional funds.

Then on Monday, the orchestra plays indoors at the East Juniata High School in McAlisterville beginning at 7:30. Sponsored by First National Bank of Mifflintown and the Lawrence L. & Julia Z. Hoverter Foundation.

So one of those is bound to be near you – and I hope you’ll be able to join us for a fun evening of summer music-making. For the outdoor concerts, it’s best to bring a lawn chair – and just a reminder, since these are public parks, BYOB means “Bring Your Own Blanket.”

Send up good thoughts for great weather – and have a Happy & Safe 4th of July!

- Dr. Dick

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Just a short note – for those of you who’ve been locating this blog through google searches, there’s now a brand new button on the lower right side of the Harrisburg Symphony's website that will take you right to the blog so now all you have to remember is how to find the Harrisburg Symphony website which should be a lot easier than typing all kinds of stuff into a search field!

Friday, June 26, 2009

Get Ready for Summer Concerts

Now that Memorial Day is history, the solstice has officially passed and it finally feels like summer is really here – and soon we can all begin complaining about the heat and humidity – it’s time to get ready for summer concerts.

And you’re in luck! The Harrisburg Symphony will be playing free concerts in five different locations around the mid-state with the area's 4th of July celebrations:

Thursday July 2 at 8PM - Negley Park, Lemoyne (sponsored by the Community of Lemoyne)

Friday July 3 at 8:30PM - American Musicfest, Harrisburg (sponsored by Dauphin County Commissioners)

Saturday July 4 at 7:30PM - Lebanon Valley College, Annville (sponsored by Lebanon Valley College)

Sunday July 5 at 7:30PM - Carlisle Summerfair, Carlisle (sponsored in part by Orrstown Bank. Senator Pat Vance assisted in obtaining additional funds.)

Monday July 6 at 7:30PM - East Juniata High School, McAlisterville (sponsored by First National Bank of Mifflintown and the Lawrence L. and Julia Z. Hoverter Foundation.)

Concertmaster Odin Rathnam will be playing the “Carmen Fantasy” by Pablo de Sarasate with the orchestra at each concert. Now, if you missed their performance from the last of the Masterworks concerts in May or you want to hear it again, this weekend’s your chance. Tune in to WITF-FM 89.5 this Sunday evening for “WITF Presents…” between 7:00 and 9:00.

For summer concerts, it's always a good idea to BYOC - Bring Your Own [Lawn] Chairs - and remember, in public parks BYOB means "Bring Your Own Blanket."

Did I mention the concerts are free?

And then join the musicians in hoping for good weather!

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photo credit: Odin Rathnam, photo by Sean Simmers

Monday, June 1, 2009

A New Work from Jennifer Higdon

Concert-goers may remember the enthusiasm that greeted the performance of Jennifer Higdon’s Percussion Concerto at the Harrisburg Symphony's concert in March, 2008, when principal percussionist Christopher Rose playing a wallful of percussion instruments stretched across the front of the Forum stage. "SkyLine," the opening movement of CityScape, a work in three movements designed to played in whole or in part, is on the orchestra’s program for January, 2010.

A week before that, she’ll be in town for a performance by the Cypress Quartet of her “Impressions,” a work she composed for them. That’s on the Market Square Concerts 2009-2010 Season.

So I thought I’d let you know her most recent work to be premiered – the Violin Concerto written for Hilary Hahn – is coming to Baltimore later this week when the Baltimore Symphony performs the concerto with Hilary Hahn this Thursday & Friday evenings and Sunday afternoon at the Meyerhoff Hall and Saturday evening at the Strathmore Center. The program opens with Beethoven's Egmont Overture and ends with the Symphony No. 5 by Antonin Dvořák .

If you can't make any of those performances, you can hear the one recorded this past Thursday with the Royal Liverpool Philharmonic (its European premiere) on-line live today at 2pm at BBC-3 with a program that begins with Gershwin’s American in Paris and concludes with Elgar’s 1st Symphony. If you can’t listen to it then, you can find it on the BBC web-site where it will be available for the next 7 days.

The Concerto was also recorded in Liverpool by Deutsche Gramophone for future release.

Check out this video of violinist Hilary Hahn talking with her former teacher at Curtis about the Violin Concerto she wrote for her.

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You can also read my post at Thoughts on a Train about it and find a few more links there.

Then I’ll be back a little later to let you know about some of the summer concerts coming up as well as looking at the up-coming 2009-2010 season!

- Dr. Dick