Vermont Symphony Orchestra

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Cliff Notes on Classical Series: October 30 Concert

Get an overview of the concert program in advance of the VSO concert at the Flynn on October 30.

Maurice Ravel’s Le Tombeau de Couperin

Originally composed for solo piano, this six-movement piece has been transformed and explored in huge variety of ways. Start with the Henderson-Kolk acoustic guitar duo’s rendition of the prelude here, then try Mason Jones’ arrangement of Menuet for woodwind quinet here, and finish with the unconventional – but effective – two marimbas tackling the Toccata here. Of course, we’ll have it fully fleshed out with the Vermont Symphony Orchestra on Oct 30 at the Flynn.

This work was composed in memory of friends lost in the First World War, when Ravel had been a military ambulance driver. New York violinist Timothy Judd’s musings on The Listeners’ Club here provides insightful and brief thoughts on what is truly one of Ravel’s most essential works.

Suad Bushnaq’s Sampson’s Walk on Air

“If there’s one thing more thrilling than writing an elegy for cello and orchestra, it’s the challenge of commemorating someone’s life through a celebratory cello concerto. As a film composer, I am used to tailoring music to the needs and requests of the director, so I tackled this work with the same mentality.” Suad Bushnaq was commissioned to write this three-movement piece that “mimics a long, tender comforting hug” in some places while “breaking into a playful, exuberant dance” in others, in honor of a Vermonter and ardent cello afficionado, Frank Sampson.

While October 30 will be the world premiere of Sampson’s Walk on Air, click here to hear music by Bushnaq for the film “The Borrowed Dress” performed by the Syrian Expat Philharmonic Orchestra.

Jessie Montgomery’s Strum

Commissioned in 2006 by the Providence, RI-based Community Music Works, Strum’s “innocent, quasi folk/rock beginning gives no clue of the chattering, asymmetrical Bartókian development to come” (Classics Today).

Fun facts: What do Winnie the Pooh, cappuccinos and Leonard Bernstein have in common with Jessie Montgomery? Musical America asked the probing questions in an informal interview here.

Just shy of 7 minutes long, perhaps the best way to introduce yourself to Strum is to listen to its original orchestration (for string quartet) performed by the composer herself with the Catalyst Quartet: click here.

Beethoven’s Symphony No. 1

Over the next few days, here’s a great way to spend 45 minutes:

Give 20 minutes over to Chairat Chongvattanakij (who received his DMus from the University of Toronto, analyzing video performances of Beethoven’s Piano Sonata Op. 109!) and his well-paced, easy-to-follow analysis of the Symphony No. 1. Click: here.

Then, give the remaining 25 minutes over to the Flanders Symphony Orchestra, conducted by Kristiina Poska, and their fast-paced performance of the Symphony No. 1 by clicking here.

To quote the composer himself, “Beethoven can write music, thank God, but he can do nothing else on earth.”