Symphony marks spring with ‘Nature’

Ted Holteen/Durango Herald

San Juan Symphony conductor and Music Director Arthur Post provides historical context for Beethoven’s “Pastoral” Symphony No. 6 on Wednesday night during his “Musically Speaking” preview at the Durango Arts Center. The piece, which Beethoven completed in 1808, will make up the entire second half of Saturday’s “Nature” program at the Community Concert Hall at Fort Lewis College.

By Ted Holteen Herald staff writer

The San Juan Symphony will finish its “Season of Appreciation” with the music of two of history’s most appreciated composers.

Saturday’s “Nature” program will include Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart’s Concerto No. 21 in C Major for Piano and Orchestra, K. 467 and end with Ludwig van Beethoven’s Symphony No. 6 in F Major, Op. 68, which the composer titled “Pastoral” when he completed it in 1808.

The opening piece will be “On Hearing the First Cuckoo of Spring” by Frederick Delius, a lesser-known British composer of the late 19th and early 20th centuries.

“We’ve chosen three pieces that just feel like spring,” Music Director Arthur Post said Wednesday night during his “Musically Speaking” preview of Saturday’s concert.“Beethoven believed that music is best when it conveys emotions instead of trying to paint a visual picture.”

“Pastoral” was written during the same six-year period that Beethoven composed his most famous Symphony No. 5, but the two pieces couldn’t be more different. In stark contrast to the power of the Fifth, Beethoven’s Sixth Symphony conveyed his love of the countryside. His own notes read: “Pastoral Symphony – whoever also treasures country life can discover for himself what the author intends.”

For Mozart’s instantly recognizable piano concerto, the symphony will follow the lead of young Chinese pianist Zhu Wang. The 14-year-old has won numerous competitions in China and internationally, including the 2011 Hilton Head International Young Artist Piano Competition in Hilton Head, S.C. Post happened to be a judge for the competition and he and Zhu will fly back to South Carolina next week where Zhu will perform the concerto again.

Both the Mozart concerto, which gained pop-culture fame as the theme to the 1967 film “Elvira Madigan” and has appeared on many ensuing soundtracks, and Delius’ “On Hearing the First Cuckoo of Spring” are a bit more melancholy than “Pastoral.”

“Springtime is joyous, but Delius’ piece is mixed with all sorts of nostalgia and sentimentality as if maybe spring hasn’t really arrived,” Post said.“Think of it like last week’s weather after we thought it was already spring – you’ve already heard a little bit of it, but now you wonder if there’s more.”

“Nature,” the fourth and final concert of the 2011-2012 San Juan Symphony season, will be repeated Sunday at the Henderson Fine Arts Center in Farmington. Next year’s season will begin in September.

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