Firebird concert promises a rousing end to RDSO season

Stravinsky, Bruch, Brahms pieces to be performed

Exotic, exuberant and mysterious.

The Red Deer Symphony Orchestra’s season-closing symphony on Saturday at the Red Deer College Arts Centre promised to be all that, and then some, with Stravinsky’s Suite from Firebird on the program, as well as Brahms’ Festival Overture and Bruch’s Violin Concert No. 1 in C Minor.

Music director Claude Lapalme said only mirthful music will be played: “There’s a bit of drama here and there, but no brooding.”

A half of the program features a musical fairy tale — five evocative pieces from Igor Stravinsky’s Firebird ballet. from the Infernal Dance of King Kashchei, to The Princess’ Khorovod (rondo).

Although Stravinsky is closely associated with his avant-gard The Rite of Spring ballet, which caused near riots after being performed by dancer Vaslav Nijinsky in 1913, Firebird was an earlier, more conventional creation.

Stravinsky put the folk music-based influences of his St. Petersburg teachers to “magical” use in this imaginative ballet, commissioned by the same Ballet Russes impressario, Sergei Daighilev, who later commissioned Rites.

Firebird premiered to great acclaim when Stravinsky was only 27 years old, making him an international star. “Its the colour that makes it so special,” added Lapalme.

Young Central Alberta violinist Caleb Johnson, who won the 2016 Red Deer Festival of the Performing Arts, will solo when the orchestra performs the Max Bruch violin concerto. It was written with great flair and showmanship. “It’s very melodic, very fun,” said Lapalme.

Johnson started playing the violin when he was six. He later learned from RDSO concertmaster Naomi Delafield while part of the Rosedale Valley Strings Orchestra and and the Burman University Orchestra. Last fall, the Bentley native began studying with Robert Uchida, concertmaster of the Edmonton Symphony Orchestra.

The evening’s lighter tone will continue with the final work, Johannes Brahms’ Academic Festival Overture, performed by the orchestra.

The original audience might have been expecting a work of more gravitas, since Brahms wasn’t known for his sense of humour, said Lapalme. But he served up a medley of drinking tunes instead, which were crowdpleasers — and are now an upbeat way of bring the 2016-17 RDSO concert season to a rousing end.

For more information about the concert, please contact the Black Knight Ticket Centre.

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