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The Russian and British Musical World of 1911

March 10, 2009

Diverse artistic expressions by Stravinsky and Elgar in Symphony 101; $10 Sunday Student Pricing

Rochester, NY –The Rochester Philharmonic Orchestra’s next pair of Symphony 101 concerts turns to the music of the 20th century, specifically to the pre-World War I year of 1911.  On Friday, April 17 at 7:30 pm and Sunday, April 19 at 3:00 pm both at the Performance Hall at Hochstein, RPO Music Director Christopher Seaman conducts selections from Stravinsky’s The Firebird, and Elgar’s Symphony No. 2, continuing this season’s theme of contrasting music written in the same year by composers taking very different musical directions.

Igor Stravinsky was only 28 when he wrote The Firebird to accompany the ballet by renowned Russian choreographer, Michel Fokine, for Diaghilev’s famous Ballets Russes.  Based on Russian folk tales of a magical bird, the success of this piece can be marked by the numerous versions that emerged since the premiere: three suites, a 1945 version, a staging by George Balanchine in 1949 for the New York City Ballet (a mainstay in the repertory until 1965, and re-staged by Balanchine and Jerome Robbins in 1970), numerous adaptations, excerpts, and various appearances in popular culture including the film Fantasia 2000.  The piece also marked the beginning of the young composer’s successful and prolific collaboration with the ballet master, going on to produce Petrushka and Rite of Spring.

On the other side of the world in 1911, British composer Edward Elgar was conducting the premiere of his Symphony No. 2, performed in London by the Queen’s Hall Orchestra and dedicated to the memory of King Edward VII.  As opposed to the lighter quality of his first symphony written only three years earlier, escalating world tensions played into the more complex and serious mood of conflict displayed in this piece.

This season’s Symphony 101 Series focuses on six groundbreaking periods in the history of music when composers of contrasting symphonic styles were writing some of their most influential works at the very same time.  Music Director Christopher Seaman leads these engaging and innovative one-hour concerts that feature discussion, musical examples, selections from significant works, and complete pieces.  Following each concert, Mr. Seaman takes questions from the audience. 

Special $10 student pricing is in effect for the Sunday Symphony 101 performances.   All other general admission tickets are $22, available online 24/7 at www.rpo.org, by phone (454-2100) in-person from the RPO Box Office and at area Wegmans.  A convenience fee may apply.  RPO Box Office hours are 10:00 am-5:00 pm, Monday-Saturday (non-concert Saturdays, 10:00 am-3:00 pm). 

The Symphony 101 Series is sponsored by PAETEC Communications, Inc. RPO performances are made possible in part with grants from the National Endowment for the Arts; the New York State Council on the Arts, a State Agency; the State of New York; Monroe County; and the City of Rochester. 

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