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Columbia Orchestra opens season with old but new

Jason Love
(File photo /)

When the Columbia Orchestra kicks off its 39th season on Saturday, Oct. 8 at 7:30 p.m. in Jim Rouse Theater, music director Jason Love will be performing three pieces for the first time with his orchestra. That should make its new season feel even newer.

The opening piece for this opening concert is the contemporary composer Adam Schoenberg's "Up," which Love described as "a three-minute fanfare to start the season."

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The model for this sort of fanfare, he added, is Aaron Copland's "Fanfare for the Common Man." So the audience can expect something fast and festive by way of an opening blast for the 2016-2017 Columbia Orchestra season.

If "Up" qualifies as an uplifting, relatively new piece of music, the other two pieces on the upcoming program are much longer compositions that have a firm place in the long history of classical music.

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Ludwig van Beethoven's Violin Concerto was composed in 1806, at the same time as his Fifth and Sixth symphonies. This 40-minute-long piece is considered one of the most famous violin concertos in the standard repertory.

Soloist for the Columbia Orchestra performance of that violin concerto will be violinist Joel Fuller, who is a member of the second violin section of the National Symphony Orchestra.

Appointed to that position in 2009 after serving four years as assistant principal second violin of the Kennedy Center Opera House Orchestra, Fuller also is a member of the IBIS Chamber Music Society and additionally a founding member of the Last Stand Quartet. He has degrees from the University of Wisconsin and the University of Michigan.

Incidentally, Fuller plays a violin made by Omobono Stradivari in Italy in 1724. It's neat to consider that his violin already was pretty old at the time Beethoven composed this concerto.

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The third piece on the program is Camille Saint-Saens' Symphony No. 3 in C minor, which is often referred to as an "Organ Symphony." Composed in 1886, Saint-Saens dedicated this two-movement composition to the recently deceased Franz Liszt.

"It's a big bold piece that makes it a season opener," Love said. "We've been trying to do it for some time, but there is no organ at the Rouse Theater and so we are renting an organ for this concert. Rouse is not a huge theater and so we will be figuring out where to place the organ on the periphery of the stage."

The organ soloist will be Nancy Smith, who is the orchestra's regular pianist.

Love observed that the designation "Organ Symphony" traditionally affixed to the Saint-Saens piece is something of a misnomer.

"The organ is silent for huge chunks, but there is a dramatic effect when it comes in," he said about a 35-minute piece in which he estimated that the organ is heard during one-quarter of its duration.

Contemplating the prospect of doing these three compositions for the first time with the Columbia Orchestra, music director Love said with enthusiasm in his voice: "It's really cool to finally be able to do these pieces."

Columbia Orchestra performs Saturday, Oct. 8 at 7:30 p.m. in Jim Rouse Theater, 5460 Trumpeter Road in Columbia. Tickets are $28 and $22; $24 and $18 for seniors; $12 and $10 for students. Call 410-465-8777 or go to www.columbiaorchestra.org

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