The Utah Symphony, under the direction of conductor Nicholas McGegan, will dive into a lyrical adventure as they pay musical homage to the sea in a concert featuring Handel's colorful "Water Music," one of his most famous symphonic works.
The orchestra will also perform a flood of other enchanting works including "The Swan of Tuonela," by Jean Sibelius, Benjamin Britten's "Four Sea Interludes," and Felix Mendelssohn's "The Fair Melusina," Friday and Saturday, Jan. 4 and Jan. 5, at 8 p.m. in Abravanel Hall, 123 W. South Temple in Salt Lake City.
Also on the program are two violin concertos by Vivaldi and Bach, featuring Utah Symphony Concertmaster Ralph Matson.
Like the explorers of old, composers have forever been drawn to the mystical nature of water in all its stunning variety.
Folklore and legends spring to life in Mendelssohn's alluring symphonic poem, "The Fair Melusina." This work ripples with mythical imagery as shifting moods reflect the beauty, suspicion and sorrow of the mysterious water spirit Melusine.
Finnish composer Jean Sibelius originally composed his tone poem "The Swan of Tuonela" as a prelude for an opera in 1893, but instead, revised and used it as one of the four movements of his "Lemminkäinen Suite." In this expressive piece, one can hear the somberness as the swan glides majestically around the black waters surrounding Tuonela, the Kingdom of Death.
Handel was commissioned by King George I to compose a new creation for his summer boating party on July 17, 1717. The concert was performed on a barge by 50 musicians. The king and his guests listened from the nearby royal barge as numerous other boats floated down the River Thames. Handel's beloved work shimmers with ever-changing tempos, gushing harmonies, and lively themes.
Britten's "Four Sea Interludes" was composed for his opera "Peter Grimes," and are heard during the various scene changes. The interludes "Dawn," "Sunday Morning," "Moonlight," and "Storm," transport the listener from one location to another, expressing the turbulence of the characters with an underlying swell of foreboding. Britten cleverly turned the interludes into a concert piece, placing them in a different order so they would flow freely and independently.
McGegan and Toby Tolokan, Utah Symphony Vice President of Artistic Planning, will present a free pre-concert chat each night, one hour prior to the start of the performance on the orchestra level of Abravanel Hall. Nicholas McGegan, Conductor
Nicholas McGegan is loved by audiences and orchestras for performances that match authority with enthusiasm, scholarship with joy, and curatorial responsibility with evangelical exuberance. Through twenty-seven years as its music director, McGegan has established the San Francisco-based Philharmonia Baroque Orchestra and Philharmonia Chorale as the leading period performance ensemble in America and brought it to the forefront of the 'historical' movement worldwide thanks to notable appearances at Carnegie Hall, the London Proms, the Amsterdam Concertgebouw, and the International Handel Festival, Göttingen where he was artistic director from 1991 to 2011.
Active in opera as well as the concert hall, he was principal conductor of Sweden's perfectly preserved 18th-century theatre Drottingholm 1993-96, running the annual festival there. And he has been a pioneer in the process of exporting historically informed practice beyond the small world of period instruments to the wider one of conventional symphonic forces, guest-conducting orchestras like the the New York, Los Angeles, and Hong Kong Philharmonics, the Chicago, St. Louis, Toronto and Sydney Symphonies, the Cleveland Orchestra and the Philadelphia Orchestra, and the Northern Sinfonia and the Scottish Chamber Orchestra, as well as opera companies including Covent Garden, San Francisco, Santa Fe and Washington.
Born in England, McGegan was educated at Cambridge and Oxford and taught at the Royal College of Music, London. He was made an Officer of the Most Excellent Order of the British Empire (OBE) in the Queen's Birthday Honours for 2010 "for services to music overseas." His awards also include the Halle Handel Prize; an honorary professorship at Georg-August University, Göttingen; the Order of Merit of the State of Lower Saxony (Germany); the Medal of Honour of the City of Göttingen, and an official Nicholas McGegan Day, declared by the Mayor of San Francisco in recognition of two decades' distinguished work with the Philharmonia Baroque.
But as McGegan said when a journalist talked admiringly of his work with an orchestra: 'I'm not working with them. I'm having fun with them'. It makes a difference. Ralph Matson, Violin
Ralph Matson was appointed Utah Symphony Concertmaster in 1985. He began his violin studies in Detroit with Emily Mutter Austin. Matson received a Bachelor of Arts degree from Yale College and a master's degree from the Yale School of Music. His principal teachers were Joseph Silverstein and Steven Staryk. He was a member of the Cleveland Orchestra, and prior to his Utah Symphony appointment, was Assistant Concertmaster of the Minnesota Orchestra.
Matson's solo appearances with the Minnesota Orchestra and the Utah Symphony include collaborations with Stanislaw Skrowaczewski, Leonard Slatkin, Sir Neville Marriner, Eiji Oue, Joseph Silverstein, Keith Lockhart, and Pavel Kogan. Since 1996, he has participated in the Grand Teton Music Festival where he is Concertmaster of the Festival Orchestra.
Single tickets for the performances range from $18 to $53 and can be purchased by calling (801) 355-ARTS (2787), in person at the Abravanel Hall ticket office (123 W. South Temple) or by visiting www.utahsymphony.org Discounted student tickets will be available on the date of the performance. Season ticket holders and those desiring group discounts should call (801) 533-NOTE (6683). All ticket prices are subject to change and availability. Ticket prices will increase $5 when purchased on the day of the performance.