Susan Davenny Wyner notes for WPO's 2019-2020 season
Image source: WGBH.
Welcome to the 54th Season of Warren's award-winning professional orchestra. This year's programs promise delights and surprises. The orchestra's extraordinary musicians will bring music from the 18th to the 21st century gloriously to life.
Magic Spells! on October 6, 2018, serves up tricks and treats as great composers wear disguises, engage in high jinks, switch moods, transform expectations and enchant us in often very short periods of time. Along with favorites The Sorcerer's Apprentice and Night on Bald Mountain, Verdi's musical brew for Macbeth's witches is intriguingly unexpected, and Weber in Abu Hassan entices with mid-eastern flavors. Also hiding in the program is an unexpected transformation of J.S. Bach's music seen through the eyes of American composer Ellen Taaffe Zwilich, the first woman to win a Pulitzer Prize in music. In her piece Upbeat!— we are playing its Ohio premiere -- she takes themes from one of Bach's most famous solo violin pieces and wittily scatters them like jazz riffs throughout the orchestra.
Paris in Spring!— the orchestra's April 19, 2020, program — spirits us off to Paris. There the 22-year-old Mozart greets us with his Paris Symphony before we are captivated by the sensuality of Debussy's Faun and swirling Fêtes and Stravinsky's magnificent Firebird Suite — whose music he created for Diaghilev's Ballets Russes to be performed at the Paris Opera in 1910. Amidst this Parisian joy we stop to take a breath with the Ohio premiere of an irresistible and intriguing piece called Pulse, created in 2003 by American composer Margaret Brouwer.
The Warren Philharmonic Orchestra is committed to playing a vital role in education and community outreach. Each year the WPO performs FreeStudent Concerts for thousands of the area's students. Packets of materials — about orchestra instruments, the music, recordings of the pieces to be performed — are sent out to the schools and posted online. At the concerts the students explore the stories behind the music and hear each instrument of the orchestra as players stand to give solo demonstrations. For many, this is the first orchestra they have ever seen or heard “live.”
The Philharmonic's Art in Music Contest is celebrating its 13th year! Hundreds of drawings by students have now been created and exhibited at art galleries, museums and community spaces as far as 200 miles away. The students are invited to draw pictures about the music the orchestra is performing, winners are chosen, and prizes awarded. This season the WPO is excited to be collaborating with Any Given Child and SMARTS.
Strings of Joy! WPO's unique program puts free stringed instruments in the hands of children and gives them free lessons. As they learn the skills of reading music and playing the instrument, they also perform for one another. The students have twice performed as soloists with the Philharmonic in works created especially for them.
A special note: In the hearts of all of us this season will be Frank R. Bodor, 1931-2019, who served for many years as the Philharmonic's board president. His devotion to the orchestra, his love of music, his vision for Strings of Joy, which put stringed instruments in the hands of children, and above all his dedication to serving others will long be treasured. We will miss you, Frank.
---Susan Davenny Wyner Music Director/Conductor Warren Philharmonic Orchestra