The North Carolina Symphony and WUNC 91.5FM have partnered to present great music for a summer evening all season long. Newly announced this week, the schedule has been extended to run every Monday, now through Sept. 3. Favorite Symphony performances from the past concert season will be broadcast on Monday night, 10:00 p.m. to midnight.
Legendary broadcaster David Hartman hosts an exhilarating program of music recorded live in Raleigh’s Meymandi Concert Hall. Every Monday night, WUNC listeners will have special access to content not available to concertgoers, including interviews with musicians and soloists and insights into some of the finest compositions ever written.
The program will stream online at wunc.org during the week following the broadcast, for a limited time only. To stream the broadcast and see the latest details on upcoming Symphony programs on WUNC 91.5FM, visit wunc.org/programs/north-carolina-symphony-concert-series.
The August 13 broadcast features Grant Llewellyn leading soprano Barbara Shirvis and the orchestra in some of the best music by Beethoven and Richard Strauss.
Beethoven: Symphony No. 8
Beethoven: Concert aria “Ah! Perfido”
Strauss: Till Eulenspiegel’s Merry Pranks
Strauss: Four Last Songs
The broadcast begins where classical music concerts typically end: with a symphony. Esteemed New York Times critic Olin Downes wrote that Beethoven’s Eighth Symphony, more than any other Beethoven work, showcases the composer as “completely and recklessly the master. The audacity and extravagance of his invention are without end, being subject, at the same time, to a supreme command of form and technique.” The piece offers a commanding yet accessible opening salvo as WUNC listeners enjoy a night of engaging contrasts.
“To start a concert with a Beethoven symphony is unusual in modern times,” says Llewellyn, “but it certainly wasn’t unusual in Beethoven’s time. He tended to add a couple of other symphonies, concertos and concert arias as well.”
The North Carolina Symphony follows Beethoven’s example with a very rare live performance of Beethoven’s dramatic concert aria “Ah! Perfido.” The work’s powerful extremes and vocal decorations make it one of the most imposing challenges in the soprano repertoire. More than equal to the task was guest Barbara Shirvis, a veteran of concert and opera performances across the world who has been celebrated for her “gorgeous tone, technical security and a touching vulnerability” by the Boston Globe.
Shirvis is also featured in a soaring concert finale: Strauss’s Four Last Songs, the final compositions of the composer’s illustrious career. “The Four Last Songs are everything you would wish for,” says Llewellyn. “There’s nothing quite like them…They’re absolutely sublime.”
Balancing the emotional force of this final masterwork is another Strauss favorite, one of the most irresistible pieces in the classical music canon and the composer’s personal favorite among his tone poems: Till Eulenspiegel’s Merry Pranks. “Till Eulenspiegel is probably the Beethoven Symphony No. 8 of Strauss,” says Llewellyn. “It’s his most colorful, virtuoso, witty symphonic poem, full of humor. It is an absolute sparkler.”
The concert was performed live in Raleigh’s Meymandi Concert Hall as part of the Duke Medicine Classical Series Raleigh on Friday and Saturday, March 16-17, 2012.
The Symphony’s 80th Anniversary Season continues this September with the orchestra’s concert series in Raleigh, Chapel Hill, Fayetteville, New Bern, Southern Pines and Wilmington, as well as individual concerts across the state. Subscriptions and tickets to these series are available now, online at www.ncsymphony.org or by calling the Symphony Box Office at 919.733.2750 or toll free 877.627.6724.
About the North Carolina Symphony
Founded in 1932 and subsequently made an entity of the North Carolina Department of Cultural Resources, the North Carolina Symphony employs 67 professional musicians under the artistic leadership of Music Director and Conductor Grant Llewellyn and Resident Conductor William Henry Curry. It performs over 175 concerts in more than 50 North Carolina counties every year. About 60 of those concerts are offered in the Raleigh-Durham-Chapel Hill metropolitan area via the Symphony’s two spectacular home venues, Meymandi Concert Hall at the Progress Energy Center for the Performing Arts in downtown Raleigh and, during the summer, Booth Amphitheatre in Cary, N.C. The Symphony also travels 12,000 miles each year to present series in Fayetteville, New Bern, Southern Pines and Wilmington; individual concerts in communities across the state; and one of the most extensive education programs of any U.S. orchestra.