Symphony Tacoma continues its celebration of Beethoven’s 250th birthday with Ludwig AND Beethoven on March 21, 2020 in the Pantages Theater. This performance includes two of Beethoven’s most prominent works, a symphony by Mozart said to have inspired him, and a brand new composition that pays tribute to this great composer.
The concert opens with The Creatures of Prometheus, one of only two ballets written by Beethoven. Commissioned to be presented with choreography by well-known dancer, Salvatore Viganò in 1801, it initially was met with widespread acclaim with sixteen performances in its first year. However, as Viganò fell out of fashion, the ballet fell into obscurity. Beethoven later reworked some of the music for other pieces—most famously in the final movement of the “Eroica” (Symphony No. 3)—but other than the overture, it is rarely performed today.
Symphonic in nature, the overture freely uses sonata form and is highly dramatic. After a slow introduction, an energetic first theme is introduced first quietly by the strings and then in a dramatic blaze of color from the whole orchestra. The second theme is quieter and gentler but the energetic quavers return to bring the exposition to an exhilarating close.
Next on the program is Mozart’s longest and final symphony, No. 41 “Jupiter,” which is notable not only for its power and beauty, but also for its musical innovations and techniques that had previously been shunned. Beethoven was said to have been inspired by its five simultaneous melodies, or polyphony. Polyphony was standard practice in the time of Bach, but was considered old-school and tedious after his death. But Mozart was fascinated by the form and utilized it in his final symphony, resulting in a work that is elegant, intricate and effortless.
The second Beethoven work is Fantasy for Piano, Chorus and Orchestra “Choral Fantasy,” considered a forerunner to his epic Ninth Symphony with its piano and vocal solos as well as chorus. It begins with a lengthy solo piano passage, performed by guest soloist Pallavi Mahidhara, with the orchestra joining in to create a concerto-like effect. The chorus enters for the grand finale, which was Beethoven’s intention to conclude the work with a thrilling and accessible ending. Its message is a fitting choice for a composer who once said that “only art and science can raise men to the level of gods.”
The concert concludes with the world premiere of Composer in Residence David Ludwig’s The Bleeding Pines. Inspired by “Choral Fantasy,” it is based on a play by poet Ray Owen that tells the story of North Carolina’s endangered Round Top Long Leaf Pine forest and one woman’s efforts to save that ancient tract of land from oblivion.
“That forest around Southern Pines is a mystical, spiritual place—a place where one feels the passing millennia in a single visit walking through woods and where the smell of the pines sits still in the air,” says Ludwig. “The tract of forest survives today because of the passionate work of Helen Boyd Dull and the continued efforts of conservationists who appreciate the timeless beauty of the trees.
“Owen and I have collaborated on multiple song cycles using his poetry, but this new oratorio is an opportunity to paint his story on the great canvas of the orchestra and chorus. That the premiere of this new work is taking place in Tacoma in the Pacific Northwest is meaningful, given how important the environment and the green life of trees is to people who live here.”
Tickets ($24 to $83) are on sale through the Tacoma Arts Live box office. To order tickets, call 253-591-5894 or visit symphonytacoma.org.
Ludwig AND Beethoven is sponsored by MultiCare, Churchill Management Group and Tacoma Philharmonic Endowment.
ABOUT THE GUEST ARTIST:
Indian-American pianist Pallavi Mahidhara made her orchestral debut at the age of 10, performing at the Ravinia Festival in Chicago. Praised for her unique artistry and charismatic stage presence, she has appeared in solo and orchestral concerts across five continents.
Mahidhara’s musical interests cover an extensive range, from standard Classical works, to music of contemporary and living composers, to fusion and crossover projects. In 2011, she joined drummer Questlove of “The Roots” and international singer/songwriter Keren Ann for a genre-defying concert, fusing the classical world with hiphop, jazz, and folkpop artists, at the Philadelphia International Festival of the Arts. She earned her Bachelor’s Degree from the Curtis Institute of Music and her Master’s at the Hochschule für Musik Hanns Eisler.
ABOUT THE COMPOSER:
David Serkin Ludwig is “a composer with something urgent to say” (Philadelphia Inquirer). His music has been described as “arresting and dramatically hued” (The New York Times) and “supercharged with electrical energy and raw emotion” (Fanfare). He has written for many prominent artists and orchestras and was awarded the 2018 Pew Center for Arts and Heritage Fellowship in the Arts. In 2013 his choral work, “The New Colossus,” was selected to open the private prayer service for President Obama’s second inauguration. In 2012 NPR Music selected him as one of the Top 100 Composers Under Forty in the world.
Born in Bucks County, P.A., Ludwig comes from several generations of eminent musicians including grandfather Rudolf Serkin and great-grandfather Adolf Busch. He holds degrees from Oberlin, The Manhattan School, the Curtis Institute, The Juilliard School, and a PhD from the University of Pennsylvania. Ludwig serves as the director of the composition faculty of Curtis and is the Gie and Lisa Liem Artistic Advisor and director of the Curtis 20/21 Contemporary Music Ensemble.Print This Post