Lake County Symphony plays Mozart and More at Upcoming Fall Concert

Camm Linden 

The Lake County Symphony performs music by Wolfgang Mozart, among others, in the 2022 “Amadeus in Autumn” Fall Concert at 2 p.m. on November 20 at Lakeport’s Soper Reese Theatre. Other featured composers in this concert are Camille Saint-Saens, Jean Sibelius, Christoph Gluck and Felix Mendelssohn.

The concert begins with a performance by the newly combined Community and Youth Orchestra playing several energetic and recognizable pieces that are guaranteed to create some noise from the audience.

After things quiet down, Conductor John Parkinson starts off the main concert with “March Militaire Francaise” from the Algerian Suite, Op. 60 by Saint-Saens. (1835-1921). A French composer, pianist, organist, and conductor of the Romantic period, Saint-Saens was a child prodigy who was giving concerts by age 10. Saint-Saens composed more than 300 works that included operas, symphonies, oratorios, cantatas, and piano concertos. He also witnessed the beginnings of 20th-century music and was the first musician to compose for the cinema. Saint-Saens visited Algeria for the first time in 1875 and developed a life-long love of the country. He wrote his “Suite Algerienne” in 1880. This work was written in four movements; the last movement became very popular on its own, and is the movement featured in this concert.

“Finlandia,” by Sibelius (1865-1957), comes next in the concert lineup. Sibelius was a Finnish composer who is widely regarded as his country’s greatest composer. His rousing and turbulent piece is often credited with having helped Finland develop a national identity during its struggle for independence from Russia. “Finlandia” premiered in July 1900 in Helsinki and had to be performed under alternate names at various musical concerts to avoid Russian censorship. Titles under which the piece masqueraded were numerous and often confusing.

Next is “Dance of the Blessed Spirits” by Gluck (1714-1787), which is from the second scene of Gluck’s opera, “Orfeus and Euridice,” the most popular of his works. Patricia Jekel, principal flute player for the Lake County Symphony, is the soloist. This piece has been called “pastoral” and “tranquil,” which some find surprising in an opera about Orpheus’ journey to Hades, the realm of the dead, in search of his departed wife.

The first half of the concert ends with “The Hebrides Overture” by Mendelssohn, (1809-1847). Although called an overture, the work is conceived in Romantic-era fashion as a stand-alone piece. Mendelssohn was the offspring of a wealthy German family and was considered a prodigy on the same level as Mozart. He wrote this piece after experiencing a strong emotional reaction while visiting the Scottish islands at age 20, during his “grand tour” of Europe.

In a letter to his sister, he shared the first few measures of the piece with her. He wrote, “In order to make you understand how extraordinarily the Hebrides affected me, I send you the following, which came into my head there.”

Following intermission, the Symphony performs two pieces by Mozart, (1756-1791) one of the most prolific and influential composers of the late Baroque-early Classical period. Kelsey Wiley, principal horn player (first chair) of the Lake County Symphony, is the featured soloist in Mozart’s Horn Concerto No. 2 in E-Flat major.

The final piece in the concert is Mozart’s Symphony No. 35 “Haffner.” He created this piece in response to a request from his father for a new symphony to honor Sigmund Haffner, a family friend who was being elevated to nobility. But he felt rushed (his life was hectic at the time) and thought the piece wasn’t up to his usual standards. So, when Mozart reviewed the score a while later, he was amazed at its quality. He decided to convert it into a symphony. First performed in Vienna in 1783, it was well-received and financially successful.

Tickets for the 2 p.m. concert are $25 for general seating and $30 for premium and are available for purchase on the Soper Reese Website. (https://www.soperreesetheatre.com) LCSA members receive a $5 discount. Please arrive 30 minutes early when buying tickets at the door for the regular 2 p.m. concert. The 11 a.m. dress rehearsal performance costs $5 for adults and is free for those for those under 18. Please arrive extra early to ensure a seat.

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