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Sometimes music is inspired by another art form, such as a painting, poem, or drama; sometimes it is written as an outlet for emotional expression. In the case of Mussorgsky's famous Pictures at an Exhibition, both are true.
In 1874, Russian composer Modest Mussorgsky was shaken by the death of his close friend, artist and architect Victor Hartmann, who was just 39 years old. Hartmann's artwork was displayed at a memorial exhibit; Mussorgsky, in order to honor the life of his friend as well as work through his own grief, composed Pictures at an Exhibition in response to the paintings and sketches he saw there. Originally written for piano, the best known version of the work is an orchestration completed by Maurice Ravel in 1923.
The North Carolina Symphony's first Classical Series concert of the new year features this captivating orchestral showpiece, together with Beethoven's boisterous and buoyant Symphony No. 4. Performed in Southern Pines (January 11), Raleigh (January 12 and 13), and Wilmington (January 14), this program is certain to brighten spirits this winter.
The concert will be led by guest conductor Rune Bergmann, who is Music Director of Canada's Calgary Philharmonic Orchestra and Artistic Director and Chief Conductor of Poland's Szczecin Philharmonic. In addition to conducting orchestras and opera houses around the world, Bergmann is also a multitalented musician who plays the trumpet, piano, violin, and viola.
Mussorgsky's Pictures at an Exhibition offers wonderful musical variety, with memorable melodies that brilliantly depict Hartmann's artwork — children at play in a Parisian garden, a troubadour singing a doleful lament in front of a foreboding castle, a bustling marketplace, a majestic imagined gateway to the city of Kiev, and much more. Ravel took Mussorgsky's already evocative score and created even more vivid imagery by masterfully utilizing the tone colors of each instrument — including some that are not frequently found in the orchestra.
"Every instrument has amazing moments in this piece — even the saxophone!" explains Principal Tuba Seth Horner, noting that it contains some of the most exciting brass playing in the repertoire. "Performing this music is an electrifying experience, and if you're in the audience, goosebumps are pretty much guaranteed."
Assistant Principal Clarinet Michael Cyzewski adds, "There is no greater orchestrator in the business than Maurice Ravel! You're going to be excited by all the bright colors that he evokes."
Beethoven's Symphony No. 4, written during a summer spent at a castle in the Hungarian countryside, reflects a halcyon time in the composers life. Lighthearted and sublime, it was the calm before the storm of the dramatic Symphony No. 5.
Audience members are invited to meet conductor Rune Bergmann at a free talk at 7pm before the concerts in Southern Pines and Raleigh. A free pre-concert talk on the music of Mussorgsky and Beethoven will be held at 6:30pm prior to the Wilmington performance. To learn more, please visit ncsymphony.org.
The North Carolina Symphony expresses its appreciation to Friday Sponsor Residence Inn Raleigh Downtown for their generous support.
North Carolina Symphony
Pictures at an Exhibition
Thursday, January 11 at 8pm
Pinecrest High School (Southern Pines)
Friday & Saturday, January 12 & 13 at 8pm
Meymandi Concert Hall
Duke Energy Center for the Performing Arts (Raleigh)
Sunday, January 14 at 7:30pm
Cape Fear Community College (Wilmington)
North Carolina Symphony
Rune Bergmann, conductor
Beethoven: Symphony No. 4
Mussorgsky: Pictures at an Exhibition
TICKETS start at $18
Online: ncsymphony.org (TicketMaster fees apply)
By phone: 919.733.2750 ($8 processing fee applies)
Choose Your Own subscription ticket packages, with savings up to 30%, are also available.
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 180 concerts and 120 community engagement 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 full-time professional 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 the Summerfest series at its summer home, the outdoor Koka Booth Amphitheatre in Cary. NCS brings some of the world's greatest talents to North Carolina and embraces home-state artists from classical musicians to bluegrass bands, creating live music experiences distinctive to North Carolina.
Committed to engaging students of all ages across North Carolina, NCS leads the most extensive education program of any symphony orchestra — serving nearly 70,000 students each year. 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 that bring the fundamentals of music to life. 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 presented 47 U.S. or world premieres in its history. In March 2017, NCS appeared 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 recognized the Symphony's creative programming and innovative community partnerships.
The first state-supported symphony in the country, NCS performs under the auspices of the North Carolina Department of Natural and Cultural Resources. To learn more, visit ncsymphony.org.