Sibelius and Brahms at the Phil

 

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News release from the Fort Wayne Philharmonic:

“Sibelius and Brahms” Features Violin Virtuoso Michael Ludwig and Side-By-Side Performance with Youth Symphony Orchestra

(March 15, 2016) – The next Fort Wayne Philharmonic Madge Rothschild Foundation Masterworks Series concert highlights the grand romanticism of “Sibelius and Brahms” on Saturday, April 9, 7:30 p.m., at the Rhinehart Music Center on the IPFW campus.

Conducted by Music Director Andrew Constantine, the performance includes Johannes Brahms’ Symphony No. 3 in F major, Op. 90 and Jean Sibelius’s treasured Finlandia in a side-by-side performance with the Fort Wayne Philharmonic Youth Symphony Orchestra. Sibelius’s vividly expressive Violin Concerto in D minor, Op. 47, performed by Michael Ludwig, will conclude the performance.

“I am so looking forward to sharing Sibelius’s extraordinarily beautiful music, and I am excited and happy to perform with the Fort Wayne Philharmonic for the first time,” Ludwig said.

Beginning the evening’s program is Brahms’ Symphony No. 3 in F major, Op. 90. In 1883 the 50 year-old Brahms was reasonably healthy and still filled with a lust for life – and younger women. He had formed a relationship with contralto Hermine Spies and followed her to Wiesbaden, a spa town located on the Rhine River. Not unlike his other symphonies that were composed during summer retreats in the countryside, it was while overlooking Wiesbaden’s streets that Brahms was inspired to begin his third symphony.

The shortest of all his symphonies, the form of the work is meticulous but tonally imaginative with intricate rhythms. All four movements share the unusual characteristic of ending softly. The entire symphony can be viewed as Brahms’ personal emblem of “Frei aber froh” (free but glad) reflected in the dramatic three note opening motif – F, A-flat, F.

After examining a two-piano version of the symphony, lifelong friend Clara Schuman’s response was sign of the symphonies pending success.

“What a work! What a poem! What a harmonious mood pervades the whole! All the movements seem to be of one piece, one beat of the heart, each one a jewel!”

After intermission the program shifts to the remarkable works of Sibelius, a personal favorite of music director Andrew Constantine.

“Sibelius is really one of the most probing and thoughtful composers I know and I really love his music. His famed tone poem Finlandia possesses a totally riveting power and its fervent, impassioned call to Finnish patriotism is simply spine tingling,” said Constantine.

Finlandia was the composer’s response to a political demonstration in 1899 against the so-called February-Manifesto, Russia’s oppressive measures on the Finnish people, where Finns were involuntarily drafted into the Russian military; their press was strongly censored while free speech and assembly were severely restricted. Finlandia inspired the Finnish people and became a rallying cry for their sovereignty. With its ominous, aggressive opening rhythms and hymn-like middle section, the piece has become Finland’s unofficial national anthem.

This rousing work will feature the Philharmonic Youth Symphony Orchestra joining the orchestra on stage in a special “side-by-side” presentation.

“The side-by-side concert provides student musicians with an authentic professional orchestra experience,” said Director of Education Jason Pearman.

Operating under The Phil’s education division, the Youth Symphony Orchestra is an advanced youth ensemble geared toward high school students and gifted middle school students. The program’s core focus is not only exceptional artistic training but transformative experiences, providing students with discipline, confidence, and a deep appreciation for music and the arts.

“Our world-class musicians offer the highest quality experience for these young musicians. This moving combination of professional and aspiring musicians performing together is indeed a rare opportunity, one that motivates students to greater levels of achievement, while inspiring audiences and showcasing The Phil’s commitment to the youth of Fort Wayne,” said Pearman.

The final piece of the evening, Sibelius’ Violin Concerto in D minor, Op. 47, will be performed by Michael Ludwig. This captivating work is soloist-dominated, evoking Finland’s crisp icy air, fields of sparkling snow, foggy marshes and the cool colors of the Northern spring.

“This magnificent concerto evokes incredible imagery of nature, both with majestic power and force, as well as great sensitivity and tenderness,” said Ludwig.

The Violin Concerto nearly didn’t get off the ground. Encouraged by the Helsinki Philharmonic concertmaster Willy Burmeister to write a concerto for him, Sibelius began composing the work in 1902. Due to the composer’s affinity for liquor and the Helsinki café lifestyle, the concerto was barely completed by its premiere in 1904. The premiere was a complete disaster, after which the nascent concerto was reworked but fell into obscurity. After many fits and starts, the revised concerto was embraced by the great Jascha Heifetz, who revived the work to the great prominence it enjoys today.

Michael Ludwig has been hailed by Strad Magazine for his “effortless, envy-provoking technique… sweet tone, brilliant expression, and grand style.” He has also received critical acclaim from Fanfare magazine declaring “His phrasing is so sensitive–it could serve as an object lesson to every budding violinist.” A highly sought-after soloist, he has performed throughout Europe and Asia, including concerts in Germany, Spain, Poland, Portugal, Israel, China, and South Korea. He has also been featured numerous times on Performance Today, a program that reaches approximately 1.2 million listeners on 230 radio stations nationwide.
Program:

SIBELIUS AND BRAHMS
Saturday, April 9 | 7:30 P.M.
The Rhinehart Music Center on IPFW campus
Andrew Constantine, conductor
Michael Ludwig, violin

BRAHMS Symphony No. 3 in F major, Op. 90

— Intermission —

SIBELIUS Finlandia, Op. 26
Youth Symphony Orchestra side-by-side performance
SIBELIUS Violin Concerto in D minor, Op. 47
Michael Ludwig, violin

All ticket holders are invited to enhance their concert experience with Musically Speaking, the pre-concert lecture series presented at 6:30 p.m. before every Masterworks performance. Lectures are held in the Rhinehart Music Center in room RC120 and are free to all ticket holders.

Tickets for “Sibelius and Brahms” start at just $17 and are conveniently available for purchase online at fwphil.org. Purchases can also be made in person at The Phil Box Office, located at 4901 Fuller Drive or over the phone by calling 260-481-0777. The Phil Box Office is open Monday through Thursday 9:00 a.m. to 6:00 p.m., Friday 9:00 a.m. to 5:00 p.m., or Saturday (Masterworks and Pops concert days only) from 12:00 noon to 4:00 p.m. Tickets are also available for purchase at the Embassy Theatre during normal operating hours and two hours prior to each concert. Full program and series information are available at fwphil.org.

For more information about The Phil’s educational offerings and audition process, please contact Joseph Kalisman, Youth Orchestra Manager at jkalisman@fwphil.org or 260-481-0757.

 

Fort Wayne Philharmonic
Now performing its 72nd season, The Fort Wayne Philharmonic’s mission is to inspire and foster a lifelong love of classical music through performance and education. The Phil is led by Music Director Andrew Constantine and is a member of the League of American Orchestras, a funded member of Arts United of Greater Fort Wayne, and the Indiana Arts Commission. For additional information visit fwphil.org.

 

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