Concert to unite symphony, singers


A host of complementary forces will come together Saturday evening at the Jim Rouse Theatre when the Columbia Orchestra takes the stage to present a concert program titled "Mozart and More."

To begin with, there's the juxtaposition of Franz Joseph Haydn and Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart, the two bulwarks of music's classical age whose works will be performed.

Haydn, tradition tells us, was so bowled over by the genius displayed by his junior colleague that he told papa Leopold Mozart, also a composer, that young Wolfgang would eclipse them both before he was through.

Mozart returned the favor, dedicating several of his finest string quartets to the great Haydn.

Mozart will be represented in Saturday's program by his Sinfonia Concertante for Violin and Viola, the extraordinary double concerto he composed in 1779, his 23rd year.

This is surely one of Mozart's finest pieces - a work positively bursting with melodic invention, emotional depth and buoyant high spirits.

The opening statement of the violin and viola, where the soloists emerge so magically from the orchestral texture to spin off their first strands of melody together, ranks as one of the greatest examples of Mozart's wizardry in action.

"It's a work full of fantastic interaction between the soloists themselves, and between the two of them and the full orchestra," says Columbia Orchestra conductor Jason Love. "Mozart achieves the warmest, lushest orchestral sound imaginable without overpowering his soloists in the least."

Violinist Brenda Anna and violist Rebecca Henry will take on the solo roles.

Anna, who serves as concertmistress of the local orchestra, also plays with the Gallery and Mid-Atlantic string quartets.

Henry, a Columbia resident, teaches string pedagogy at Baltimore's Peabody Institute while chairing the string department of Peabody's preparatory division.

In the second half of the concert, choral forces from neighboring Carroll County will collaborate with the Columbians in the "Winter" portion of Haydn's oratorio The Seasons.

Soprano Kyle Engler, tenor Evan Walker, bass-baritone David Griffiths, and the Western Maryland College Choir under the direction of Margaret Boudreaux will lend their talents to this rare inclusion of a choral masterwork on the Columbia Orchestra's subscription bill.

Composed from 1799 through 1801, The Seasons is an earthly, rustic musical collage of spring festivals, thunderstorms, autumnal hunts and wintry scenes. In that chilly portion of the year, Haydn depicts cold mists, howling winds, warm, intimate taverns perfect for taking out the chill, indoor storytelling as spinning wheels turn and a majestic final chorus that praises God for all of it.

"This was a composer who was always rejuvenating himself," Love says. "Some of The Season's great choruses look back to the music of Handel, while others look way ahead to Robert Schumann and the Romantic era."

Saturday's concert will open with yet another collaborative venture as Maestro Love cedes the podium to assistant conductor Daniel Ratchev, a Peabody conducting student who will lead the orchestra in the rollicking overture to Mozart's opera The Magic Flute.

Ratchev should prove interesting to watch, as he's been selected by former Baltimore Symphony conductor David Zinman as one of the conducting fellows at this summer's Aspen Festival in Colorado, and by Leonard Slatkin as a participant in the National Symphony's National Conducting Institute.

The Columbia Orchestra will perform "Mozart and More" at 8 p.m. Saturday at Jim Rouse Theatre at Wilde Lake High School, 5460 Trumpeter Road in Columbia. Tickets are $12 for adults, $10 for seniors older than 60 and $5 for full-time students. The program will be repeated at Westminster High School, Westminster, at 7:30 p.m. Feb. 10. Tickets: 410-381-2004.

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