Susan Davenny Wyner welcome notes for WPO's 2020-2021 season
Photo credit: Bill Mullane
Welcome to the 55th 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.
In these difficult and frightening times, music has the power to reach deep in us – to touch on rich emotions, to transport us to different worlds and senses of time. Live performance draws us together as a community as we are caught up in the beauty and adventure of the moment. The Warren Philharmonic's programs this season highlight the extraordinary skills and virtuosity of our musicians and feature a wide range of music from the 1700s up to works just written.
Our fall concert spirits us over to Paris for four thrilling and very different musical adventures. We start in 1778 with the 22-year-old Mozart who greets us with his new Paris symphony. It is filled with such wit and quicksilver brilliance that its first listeners gasped and broke into applause while it was being played.
Some 116 years later, Debussy lures us into a delicately sensual world with his Prelude to the Afternoon of a Faun, and in Fêtes, he evokes a colorful, swirling festival in the Bois de Boulogne. Our Paris adventure closes with Stravinsky's magnificent Firebird Suite – music he created for Diaghilev's Ballets Russes to perform at the Paris Opera in 1910. Based on a Russian legend of a magical Firebird, the piece exploits dazzling orchestral sonorities to characterize its exotic characters. We celebrate our return home with the Ohio premiere of Pulse, an intriguing and irresistible piece created in 2003 by Cleveland-based American composer Margaret Brouwer.
I am excited to welcome Grammy winning guitarist Jason Vieaux to our spring concert and to present a hot off the page work by Augusta Read Thomas, a striking American composer and Pulitzer Prize finalist, who was selected Chicago's person of the year in 2016. Her music has been described as coming 'out of a magician’s hat...playful and subtle... music that conjures.' Its American inflections create a stunning contrast to Rodrigo's famous guitar concerto with its catchy, lilting Spanish rhythms.
The concert opens and closes with masterpieces by Mendelssohn and Bizet, each written when the composer was only 17 years old! I thought it would be intriguing to begin with Mendelssohn's Midsummer Night's Dream Overture, written in 1826. Its mysterious opening chords quickly give way to Shakespeare's skittering, dancing fairies, the young lovers theme, the 'hee-hawing' of Bottom; the piece is a marvel of construction and skill while it evokes its poetic magic. Bizet's brilliant 1855 Symphony, which closes the concert, lay in a drawer forgotten until almost a hundred years later when it was discovered and performed!
---Susan Davenny Wyner Music Director/Conductor Warren Philharmonic Orchestra