Wednesday, September 19, 2012

A New Season- And a New KSO Family Member

The KSO's Masterworks season opens this Thursday and Friday at the Tennessee Theatre with a varied program of Brahms, Copland, Richman and Rachmaninov. This will be the orchestra's 77th season, and a landmark tenth season for Music Director Lucas Richman.Whereas previous opening gala concerts have started at 7:00 and all subsequent concerts in the season have started at 8:00, every concert in this series including this Thursday and Friday night will start at 7:30 pm. 

Call me iconoclastic, but to me, the words “academic” and “festival” are strange bedfellows. Brahms definitely puts the emphasis on “festival” with his Academic Festival Overture. One  might think a work with such a title was written to accompany a bunch of pointy-headed philosophy profs eating Braunschweiger and drinking schnapps, but it was actually a thank you gesture for the University of Breslau, which had bestowed upon Brahms an honorary doctorate in 1879.  The second theme of this piece is undoubtedly the basis for the Perry Como hit song Catch a Falling Star; that is how I have remembered the work over the years.

Lucas Richman’s Summer Excursions was written for LA’s Young Musicians’ Foundation Debut Orchestra Camp in 2003. As you may remember, this is the youth orchestra that Lucas toured China with in January. It is challenging for us; imagine how the kids must have felt, faced with this music for the first time! Embedded in the middle of the work is an original ragtime tune that Lucas dreamt up.

Aaron Copland is a composer whose music sounds like Lucas Richman’s. His El Salon Mexico dates from 1936, and features Copland’s trademark meter shifts, skewgy harmonies, and jazz rhythms. The music depicts a dance hall of the same name in Mexico City and uses Mexican folk tunes throughout.

I know. You’re attending the concert this Thursday or Friday night because of the Rachmaninov second concerto. The one from which Eric Carmen carved out (from the second movement) a major hit with the song “All By Myself” in 1975. Orion Weiss’ playing of the concerto is about as clean and brilliant as the stars on a clear, crisp, moonless autumn night.


We are without our principal violist Katie Gawne for a while, because the KSO family gained a new member last week. Last night we were introduced to Louisa Jane Gawne, who was born on Thursday the 13th! Here's Louisa with awesome big sister Alice.

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