Violinist Kai Gleusteen will perform with the RDSO (contributed photo.)

Orchestra plays ‘rousing’ Scottish tunes to celebrate Robbie Burns Day

Violinist Kai Gleusteen will solo at the Jan. 26 show at RDC Arts Centre

Expect to be overcome by more than a wee bit of gladness at the Robbie Burns Day concert by the Red Deer Symphony Orchestra.

Music director Claude Lapalme predicts a full-on “joyful, rousing” experience Saturday, Jan. 26, at the Red Deer College Arts Centre as the orchestra tackles Scottish-inspired works by Maxwell Davies and Max Bruch — as well as a colourful medley of traditional tunes orchestrated by Lapalme, himself.

His Fantasy on Scottish Folk Songs illustrates “the love I have always had for folk melodies,” said Lapalme, with Highland tunes counting among his favourites.

The medley draws on the Eriskay Love Lilt, historical ballad The Burning o’ Auchindoun, instrumental dance Glenlivet Reel, and the ever-popular The Bonnie Banks o’ Loch Lomond.

Lapalme said, “As usual… I tried to give every instrument a chance to shine.”

He’s already received great feedback on the work from the son of a Cape Breton fiddler, so he’s confident he can stir up the audience with the powerful emotions behind these tunes.

Solo violinist Kai Gleusteen will be featured on Max Bruch’s Scottish Fantasy. The Calgarian spent nine years playing with orchestras in Paris and Prague before created the Gran Teatre del Liceu Chamber Orchestra in Barcelona.

The musician, who performs across Europe and North America on an instrument made in 1781, will take on Bruch’s “wondrous” melodic work, which is also based on Scottish folk songs.

Lapalme called the Bruch piece “an absolute fountain of melody.”

The German composer was so inpired by Scottish music that he created a fierce, war-like last movement that builds to such a fever-pitch, that Gleusteen is sure to bust a few violin strings playing it, said Lapalme.

It consists of a rondo that grows ever more complicated. “It’s a LOT of playing,” he added, with a chuckle.

Davies’ uplifting Orkney Wedding and Sunrise was inspired by the first marriage to take place in many years on the Orkney Islands.

When a young American moved there to marry a local farmer in 1980, it was such a positive thing for islanders who had watched so many of their own leave for richer shores, that Davies sought to capture this hopeful spirit in music.

Lapalme noted that Bruch depicts all aspects of the wedding — including the comic drunken band and the spectacular sunrise after an evening of festivities.

He promises the audience a wonderful “surprise” at the end. “I’ll say no more…”

Tickets are available from the Black Knight Ticket Centre.

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