The North Carolina Symphony launches the 2012/13 editions of its statewide classical concert series late next month when Resident Conductor William Henry Curry and conductor Tonu Kalam lead the orchestra in an evening featuring Brahms' First Symphony.
Maestro Curry conducts the series-opening performances at Memorial Hall, on the campus of the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, Thursday, Sept. 20 at 8:00 p.m.; Seabrook Auditorium at Fayetteville State University, Friday, Sept. 21, at 8:00 p.m. and New Bern Riverfront Convention Center, Sunday, Sept. 23 at 7:30 p.m. Kalam leads the performance at Kenan Auditorium at the University of North Carolina at Wilmington, Saturday, Oct. 13 at 8:00 p.m.
UNC's Letitia Glozer will host a pre-concert talk on the concert program in Gerrard Hall on Thursday, Sept. 20 beginning at 7:00 p.m. Craven Community College's Philip Evancho will host a similar talk on the second floor of the Convention Center on Sunday, Sept. 23 beginning at 6:30 p.m.
The concert opens with three popular melodies taken from larger works, including the well-known opening strains of Mozart's Overture to The Marriage of Figaro and the at times dramatic, at times mystical Overture to Carl Maria von Weber's Romantic opera Der Freischütz. Also included in the program is the Love Scene from Berlioz's large-scale "dramatic" symphony, Romeo and Juliet, the composer's favorite among his own compositions.
"The extraordinary purity of the music is not a paradox," wrote contemporary music critic David Cairns of the Love Scene, "it suggests not restraint but a passion so incandescent that it transfigures sensuality."
Yet those three works are only the beginning, as the orchestra soon dives into one of the most cherished pieces in the orchestral literature, Brahms' First Symphony.
"It's an opportunity for a real statement," says Symphony Music Director Grant Llewellyn of the work, credited with revitalizing the symphonic form. "I think it's the perfect calling card."
The most performed of Brahms's symphonies, the First was no easy feat for the young composer. His earliest sketches of the work date to 1855, when Brahms was only 22 years old and attempting to live up to a label already placed on him by composer Robert Schumann: the savior of German music and the rightful heir of Beethoven's legacy.
"You have no idea how it feels to hear behind you the tramp of a giant like Beethoven," Brahms once remarked.
The First Symphony would not be premiered for over two decades, but Brahms' time was very well spent. The First Symphony is a profound, emotional blend of heartwarming melodies over an elaborate musical structure. Its colorful and dramatic passages continually reveal surprising new textures, even to listeners long familiar with the work, making it the perfect listening experience to launch the Symphony's latest concert series around the state.
North Carolina Symphony series subscribers receive exclusive benefits, including priority seating for special events, 10% savings on additional single-concert tickets and the chance to keep or upgrade seats in future seasons. Best of all, subscribers save big compared to single-ticket prices.
Subscriptions to the Symphony's 2012/13 concert series in Raleigh, Chapel Hill, Fayetteville, New Bern, Southern Pines and Wilmington are currently available online at www.ncsymphony.org/subscriptions or by calling the North Carolina Symphony Box Office at 919.733.2750 or toll free 877.627.6724.