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May 2022 | Blooming Brilliance & Scheherazade

Legends Young and Old.

Rimsky-Korsakov’s Scheherazade is a magic carpet ride around the exotic wonders of the Middle East. This is one of the great symphonic thrill rides in all of music and depicts all the colors of the orchestra and the instruments in all their finery. This is a piece that most of us have loved from the first time we heard it as children.

Scheherazade is a lush retelling of the Tales of 1001 Nights. The scenes include historical tales, love stories, tragedies, comedies, and poems with djinns, genies, ghouls, sorcerers, magicians, Sinbad and his sailors, princes, princesses, and swashbuckling heroes. The music is descriptive, entertaining and exciting. We are immediately introduced to the surly Sultan by our low growling brasses and then meet the beautiful Scheherazade – with our Concertmaster’s soaring violin. We will hear the adventures of Sinbad the Sailor, the exploits of a prince, the love of a young princess, and visit a Festival in old Baghdad. Three of the movements begin with strumming chords on the harp. Clearly, this is the instrument of the bards of old, accompanying a long evening of folk tales from the ancient oral tradition.

Here is the text which has appeared with many editions.

“The Sultan, convinced of the perfidy and infidelity of all women, vowed to put to death each of his wives after the first night of nuptial bliss. But the Sultana Scheherazade saved her life by arousing his interest in the wonderful tales she told for a thousand and one consecutive nights. She spun miraculous stories, and driven by curiosity, the Sultan postponed her execution from day to day and finally abandoned his wicked and bloody plan entirely.”

Of interest to us here in Bremerton, is the fact that composer Rimsky-Korsakov was a career Naval Officer. As a young man, he sailed the world and even wrote about visiting the United States during the Civil War. Later he became the Inspector of Navy Bands and an absolute master of the orchestra.

We open this concert by presenting our 2022 Young Artist Competition Winners. Alec Rodriguez, 13, our Junior Winner, will perform the first movement pyrotechnics of Rachmaninoff’s elegant and passionate Second Piano Concerto.

Sergei Rachmaninov had been severely depressed. For nearly two years he could not work. He could not perform. He sat reclining in his doctor's office. He was under hypnosis. His doctor intoned over and over again: "You will write a concerto ... You will write a concerto … it will be excellent." Unlike many patients, Rachmaninov actually listened to his doctor and shortly thereafter, produced his first great hit, this C Minor Piano Concerto.

Senior Winner in Piano, Damaris Harvey, 16, will tackle the beastly difficult “La campanella,” originally a showpiece by violin wizard Niccolò Paganini, here transcribed by perhaps the greatest pianist of the 19th Century, Franz Liszt.

Next, a piece which is virtually unknown in its orchestral garb. Giuseppe Guttoveggio, better known by his nom de plume, Paul Creston, wrote this Sonata for Saxophone and Piano in 1939, but it was only orchestrated ten years ago and this edition has not yet received many performances. Our soloist will be Langholm Armstrong, 17, Senior Runner-up.

Our first half will close with the Finale from the beloved G Minor Violin Concerto of Max Bruch, performed by Elizabeth Stein, 16, our Senior Winner on Violin.


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