Symphony Strings celebrate a spring ‘Serenade’
Madeline Adkins, Utah Symphony concertmaster and NOVA Chamber Series’s new executive director, takes a different approach when she programs concerts for her respective organizations.
“As opposed to when I pick works for NOVA, which usually are a little more jarring when juxtaposed to each other, [The Utah Symphony] works, to a certain extent, will have a similar effect, especially when I select works for the Utah Symphony Strings, because there aren’t the variety and timbres that we get with a full orchestra. So I think this has a symmetry to it.”
Adkins is scheduled to lead the Utah Symphony Strings in a spring performance at 7:30 p.m. on Friday, March 16, at St. Mary’s Catholic Church, 1505 White Pine Canyon Road.
The evening will cap off with Dvořák’s “Serenade for Strings,” while the first half of the concert will feature Henry Purcells’ “Suite” from “The Fairy Queen,” Felix Mendelssohn’s “String Sinfonia No. 10” and the “Capriol Suite” by Phillip Arnold Heseltine, better known as Peter Warlock.
Adkins said she chose these works because she has been wanting to perform them.
“I also wanted something meaty for the second half, which is why we’re dong the Dvořák,” she said.
Adkins also wanted to program works from different eras that fit together.
“I tried to get something from the Baroque period, so that’s why I selected Purcell,” she said. “As for String Sinfonia, Mendelssohn wrote some amazing string symphonies when between the ages of 12 and 14, which, to me, is incredible.”
The “Capriol Suite” was something Adkins used to play with her family.
“I’m the youngest of eight, and we all played string instruments,” she said. “We first started playing together when I was about 12, and we looked for things we could play as a group, and this was one of the pieces that my family first recorded together.”
Adkins said the Warlock work is like a “bookmark” to the Purcell piece.
“Warlock … studied the Renaissance dances and works such as ‘Suite’ from ‘The Fairy Queen’ and paid tribute to that earlier time,” she said. “It’s a throwback to that style.”
The Dvořák work in itself, contains different moods.
“The movements have contrasts that makes it a great piece,” Adkins explained.
As the Adkins reviewed the pieces from the first half of the evening, she also noticed a strange phenomena.
“I realized that I had inadvertently selected pieces from composers who all died prematurely young,” she said.
Warlock (Heseltine) and Purcell both died when they were 36, and Medelssohn passed at 38.
“That wasn’t what I was going for, but it was hard to think of, because I’m older than them all, myself,” she said.
The concert will feature 22 string players.
“It’s a small group, but very agile,” Adkins said. “The music can ebb and flow and that makes it exciting.”
Adkins, who doesn’t consider herself a baton waver, will conduct the performance from the violin as well.
“I’ll do what musicians did during the Baroque times when there wasn’t a conductor,” she said. “The first violinist led the ensemble, and the Utah Symphony Strings is more like a giant string ensemble than an orchestra. So you really get that intimate feel with everyone responding to each other, than top-down instruction.”
Adkins said St. Mary’s Catholic Church is the perfect setting for the concert.
“It’s such a beautiful space for strings and the acoustics are perfect,” she said.
The concert will mark nearly a year and a half since Adkins was named Utah Symphony’s concertmaster.
“It’s been a whirlwind,” she said. “There was a lot to learn about the Utah Symphony as well as getting know our patrons and the staff.”
Adkins said she feels very comfortable at the Utah Symphony, and that’s partly because of its audience.
“I have found how special music is to the Utah community,” she said. “It’s such an important part of the community, because there are so many people who start taking lessons at such a young age. So that brings a deeper level with the connection with the audience.”
In addition, Adkins was named music director of NOVA Chamber Music Series in November.
She replaces Jason Hardink, who will remain as an advisor.
“As advisor, Jason, along with the staff, will handle the grant writing,” Adkins said. “My role is primarily involved in programming and personnel. That season hasn’t been announced, but I can say it’s going to be very exciting.”
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