This preview has been provided by the North Carolina Symphony.
Just before and after Valentine's Day, Music Director Grant Llewellyn leads the North Carolina Symphony (NCS) in two sensuous orchestral showpieces — Rimsky-Korsakov's Scheherazade and Tchaikovsky's Romeo and Juliet. The performances take place at the Wilson Center in Wilmington on February 9; Meymandi Concert Hall in Raleigh on February 10 and 11; and at Memorial Hall at UNC-Chapel Hill on February 25.
Rimsky-Korsakov's Scheherazade was inspired by the famous Arabian Tales of 1,001 Nights, in which the princess Scheherazade weaves enchanting stories each night for her husband, the murderous Sultan, in order to keep him entertained and save her life. Each story keeps him wanting to hear more, and over the course of 1,001 nights he falls in love with her and abandons his plan to kill her. The piece includes numerous virtuosic solos for the first violinist — the concertmaster — which represent the voice of Scheherazade.
"Each time the violin plays this theme, it is in a slightly different context, with different figurations," says NCS Concertmaster Brian Reagin. "As the soloist, you have to figure out how to be as entertaining as Scheherazade had to be with her stories."
Tchaikovsky's Romeo and Juliet Fantasy Overture of course also has a literary inspiration. In Tchaikovsky's music, we hear various aspects of Shakespeare's play — the conflict between the Montagues and Capulets, Friar Lawrence's urgent pleas for peace, the passion and tenderness between Romeo and Juliet, and an impending sense of doom toward the end with funereal drum beats. The familiar melody played by the English horn has become almost a stereotypical musical trope for love, often quoted in television and movies.
While the works of Rimsky-Korsakov and Tchaikovsky feature lush, romantic melodies, Everything Happens So Much by the young American composer Timo Andres is defined by its energy and constant activity. Andres explains that the piece, which was premiered by the Boston Symphony Orchestra in November, has "a surface tension to it, a kind of restlessness." Similar to the other two pieces on the program, it spotlights NCS musicians in soloistic passages — most notably, the transcendently beautiful theme in the harp at the conclusion.
North Carolina Symphony
Thursday, February 9, 2017 at 7:30 pm
Cape Fear Community College
Friday & Saturday, February 10-11, 2017 at 8 pm
Meymandi Concert Hall
Duke Energy Center for the Performing Arts
Saturday, February 25, 2017 at 7:30 pm
North Carolina Symphony
Grant Llewellyn, conductor
Tchaikovsky: Romeo and Juliet Fantasy Overture
Timo Andres: Everything Happens So Much
Tickets start at $18
Online: ncsymphony.org (TicketMaster fees apply)
By phone: 919.733.2750 ($8 processing fee applies)
In-person:NCS State Headquarters Offices,
3700 Glenwood Ave., Suite 130, Raleigh (No processing fee)
Wilson Center, 701 North Third St., Wilmington (No processing fee)
About the North Carolina Symphony
Founded in 1932, the North Carolina Symphony (NCS) is a vital and honored component of North Carolina's cultural life. Its 175 concerts and events annually are greeted with enthusiasm by adults and schoolchildren in more than 90 North Carolina counties — in communities large and small, and in concert halls, auditoriums, gymnasiums, restaurants, clubs, and outdoor settings. The Symphony's 66 full-time musicians perform under the artistic leadership of Music Director Grant Llewellyn.
NCS's state headquarters venue is the spectacular Meymandi Concert Hall at the Duke Energy Center for the Performing Arts in downtown Raleigh. The Symphony's service across the state includes series in Chapel Hill, Fayetteville, New Bern, Southern Pines, and Wilmington, as well as Summerfest concerts at the outdoor Koka Booth Amphitheatre in Cary. Collaborating with performers that range from classical artists, to banjo players, to jazz bands, NCS brings some of the world's greatest talents to North Carolina.
Committed to engaging students of all ages across North Carolina, NCS leads the most extensive education program of any U.S. orchestra. In alignment with the curriculum set by the North Carolina Department of Public Instruction, the Symphony provides training and resources for teachers, sends small ensembles into classrooms, and presents full-orchestra Education Concerts experienced by more than 52,000 4th and 5th graders each year. Music Discovery for preschoolers combines music with storytelling, and at the middle and high school levels, students have opportunities to work directly with NCS artists and perform for NCS audiences.
NCS is dedicated to giving voice to new art, and has given 47 U.S. or world premieres in its history. In March 2017, NCS will appear at The John F. Kennedy Center for the Performing Arts in Washington, D.C., as one of four orchestras chosen for the inaugural year of SHIFT: A Festival of American Orchestras — an honor that recognizes the Symphony's innovative community partnerships and creative programming that inspires increased interest in new music. The Symphony will present works by composers with ties to North Carolina, including Sarah Kirkland Snider, Caroline Shaw, Mason Bates, and Robert Ward.
The first state-supported symphony in the country, NCS performs under the auspices of the North Carolina Department of Natural and Cultural Resources.