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Game-changers to open season

Beethoven’s ‘Eroica’ will cap San Juan Symphony program
Violinist Odin Rathnam will be the guest soloist for “Musical Mavericks,” the San Juan Symphony’s season-opening concert Saturday at the Community Concert Hall at Fort Lewis College.

A trio of “Musical Mavericks” will introduce the 2013-14 San Juan Symphony on Saturday night at the Community Concert Hall at Fort Lewis College.

Actually, Maestro Arthur Post confessed that only two of the three – Charles Ives and Ludwig van Beethoven – were true mavericks. The German Max Bruch composed what Post calls “a straight-ahead violin concerto.”

“We needed a little variety,” Post said.

American Odin Rathnam, born in Manhattan to Danish and Indian parents, will handle the solo on Bruch’s Violin Concerto No. 1. He was accepted to the Juilliard School’s precollege division at the age of 11 and continued his formal education at Mannes College of Music and at the Juilliard School.

As founder of the acclaimed chamber group Concertante, Rathnam performs frequently in Harrisburg, Pa., Baltimore and New York in addition to his solo work with numerous national and international symphonies. He currently serves as a performing faculty member at the Nordic Music Academy in Denmark.

Sandwiching Bruch’s concerto will be the two “Mavericks.” Ives’ “The Unanswered Question” will open the concert, and Beethoven’s Symphony No. 3, “Eroica,” will close the evening after intermission.

“You can think of Ives as the father of American classical music along the lines of Thoreau and Emerson,” Post said. “He’s a maverick for two reasons: He was an American composer when it wasn’t cool to be an American, and he was an experimental pioneer with musical textures, like a painter.”

In Ives’ day of the late 1800s, a young American composer typically would travel to Europe to study and sound like European composers. But Ives, as the son of a bandmaster, embraced the American musical sound and incorporated many samples of American music into his compositions.

“The Unanswered Question” does not include any specific musical quotations and is a singular example of Ives’ experimentation. To mimic the sounds of Americana like a far-off trumpet or music played outdoors, Ives, and in his stead, Post, has some instruments played offstage out of sight of the audience.

Beethoven’s third symphony, “Eroica,” came at a seminal time in the German’s life. Only months earlier, he had confessed in a letter to his brothers that he had been suffering from hearing loss for the previous six years. The famous document, the Heiligenstadt Testament, was not read until after his death, but the confession had a cathartic effect on Beethoven nonetheless.

“The acceptance of that condition liberated him, allowed him to follow his own voice in a way that he hadn’t before,” Post said. “He counted his days from that moment on and could not waste one second. That’s why you get from this moment on a compositional style that’s bold, personal and not trying to please anybody.

“And the Third is tremendous in scope, almost twice as long as a Mozart or Haydn symphony,” Post said. “Its range of energy and emotion is just much greater than anything that had come before.”


If you go

The San Juan Symphony will present “Musical Mavericks,” works by Charles Ives, Max Bruch and Ludwig Van Beethoven, at 7:30 p.m. Saturday at the Community Concert Hall at Fort Lewis College.

Tickets cost $50 for Plaza, $45 for Orchestra level and $34 for balcony seating with discounts for seniors and students. Season packages are available, and the symphony is offering half-price season tickets to new subscribers in Durango. Tickets are available by phone at 247-7657 and online at www.durangoconcerts.com.

For more information, call 382-9753 or visit www.sanjuansymphony.org.

“Musical Mavericks” will be repeated at 3 p.m. Sunday at Montezuma-Cortez High School. For Cortez tickets, call Paul Bostrom at 565-9127 or Joyce Stevenson at 565-4757.

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