Columbia Orchestra books a Brit, a Finn and an American

The 19th-century German classical music repertory is not directly represented on the Columbia Orchestra's next concert, but its romantic influence will be heard in the program scheduled for Saturday, Feb. 2, at 7:30 p.m., in the Jim Rouse Theatre, at Wilde Lake High School.

On the upcoming program are Jean Sibelius' Symphony No. 5, Benjamin Britten's "Four Sea Interludes" from his opera "Peter Grimes" and Samuel Barber's Violin Concerto.

"They're all 20th-century composers, but rather than breaking with traditions they're extending traditions," observes Columbia Orchestra Music Director Jason Love. "They're 20th-century romantics."

If they reflect the musical inspiration of such German giants as Beethoven and Brahms, they combine those heroically romantic sounds with inspirational sources that reflect their own national traditions.

"No one is more Finnish than Sibelius, no one is more British than Benjamin Britten, and with Barber, from the first bar you know it's composed by an American," Love says.

The music of Sibelius is no stranger to concert halls or classical music radio stations, but Love points out that the composer is most often represented by his symphonies No. 1 and No. 2, as well as his Violin Concerto.

Sibelius' Symphony No. 5 does not get performed nearly as often. Indeed, the last time the Columbia Orchestra did it was in 1999, when Love's predecessor as music director, Catherine Ferguson, included it in her farewell concert.

A composer who drew upon Finnish folk music throughout his career and who himself became something of a folk hero, Sibelius was closely associated with that nation's aspirations for political independence in the early 20th century.

"Sibelius was the symbol of Finnish art, and up until they changed to the Euro, he was on their money. There is (creative) pressure if you're the voice of your people," Love adds. But it paid off in Sibelius' ambitiously scaled Symphony No. 5, which is "positive and heroic and uplifting, and that nods to Beethoven's "Eroica Symphony."

Moving from Finland to Great Britain on this concert, the Britten piece is composed of orchestral interludes from his opera "Peter Grimes." Love explains that "the interludes are unchanged from within the opera. They encapsulate the drama."

For American composer Samuel Barber's well-known Violin Concerto, the soloist is Madeline Adkins. She will be familiar to local classical music fans, because she joined the Baltimore Symphony Orchestra in 2000 and became its associate concertmaster in 2005. She's also concertmaster of the Baltimore Chamber Orchestra, and plays baroque-era music with the Baltimore-based Pro Musica Rara.

She's also known elsewhere in the world, because she is guest concertmaster of the Hong Kong Philharmonic, Oregon Symphony, Indianapolis Symphony Orchestra and Chicago's Grant Park Symphony Orchestra; performs chamber music recitals in venues including the Romanian Embassy in Washington, D.C., and appears in festivals including the Grand Teton Music Festival.

Columbia Orchestra performs Saturday, Feb. 2, at 7:30 p.m., in the Jim Rouse Theatre at Wilde Lake, 5460 Trumpeter Road, in Columbia. Tickets are $10-$25. Call 410-465-8777 or go to

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