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This preview has been provided by the North Carolina Symphony.
The North Carolina Symphony will open its Season of Celebration in Chapel Hill (September 26 at Memorial Hall), Wilmington (September 28 at the Wilson Center), Southern Pines (September 29 at Pinecrest High School), and New Bern (October 4 at Temple Church) with works by Mozart, Elgar, and Grace Mary Williams – music spanning three centuries. The performances will be led by Associate Conductor Wesley Schulz.
Elgar's "Enigma" Variations feature 14 charming musical portraits of Elgar's family and friends, all brilliantly spun out of a single melody. As the story goes, Elgar came home from a day of teaching and sat down at his piano, where he made up a simple tune and, for his wife's amusement, began creating little improvisations on it – caricatures of their friends. Those witty caricatures ultimately became one of his most beloved works.
"The 'Enigma' Variations, while a challenging virtuosic work, is a favorite of mine and always a pleasure to perform," says NCS violinist Eric McCracken. "Elgar ingeniously creates an array of musical vignettes, each of which describe the unique and contrasting personalities of his friends. By utilizing the underlying 'enigmatic' theme for each portrait, he weaves together a coherent musical tapestry." NCS violist Christine Martin adds, "I believe the slow movement of the 'Enigma' Variations, Nimrod, is one of the most beautiful melodies ever written by any composer!"
Continuing its commitment to the music of women composers, the Symphony then performs a work by another British composer – Grace Mary Williams' 1944 moody and evocative Sea Sketches. Williams grew up on the Welsh coast and composed the work while she was in London, homesick for the sounds and sights of the sea. "I have lived most of my life by the sea," she wrote, "and will never tire of looking at it and listening to its wonderful sounds."
The program opens with Mozart's "Paris" Symphony – a work that he composed while visiting Paris in hopes of finding a job suited to his musical genius. He customized the symphony specifically to appeal to the Parisian taste. It was a glowing success, with the conductor of the premiere declaring it Mozart's "best symphony." With this work, it was clear that Mozart was on the threshold of his artistic maturity.
A shortened version of this program, featuring the works of Elgar and Grace Mary Williams, will be performed in Raleigh at a noontime Friday Favorites concert on September 20, conducted by Music Director Grant Llewellyn.
North Carolina Symphony
Mozart & Elgar
Thursday, September 26 at 7:30 pm
Memorial Hall UNC-Chapel Hill (Chapel Hill)
Saturday, September 28 at 7:30 pm
Wilson Center Cape Fear Community College (Wilmington)
Sunday, September 29 at 3 pm Lee Auditorium
Pinecrest High School (Southern Pines)
Friday, October 4 at 7 pm
Temple Church (New Bern)
North Carolina Symphony
Wesley Schulz, conductor
Mozart: Symphony No. 31 "Paris"
G. Williams: Sea Sketches
Elgar: "Enigma" Variations
TICKETS start at $31
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. Each year, the North Carolina Symphony's 300 concerts, education programs, and community engagement events are enjoyed 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 49 U.S. or world premieres in its history. In 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.