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James Lowe, conductor
Dawn Wolski, soprano

Celebrate the 50th anniversary of the Spokane Expo ’74 with music played that season by the Spokane Symphony.

Dmitri Shostakovich
Festive Overture, Op.96
Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart
Exsultate, jubilate, K.165
Riccardo Drigo
Pas de Deux from Le Corsaire
Piotr Ilyich Tchaikovsky
Symphony No. 4 in F minor, Op.36

SATURDAY DOORS 6PM | PRECONCERT LECTURE 6:30PM | SHOW 7:30PM
SUNDAY DOORS 1:30PM | PRECONCERT LECTURE 2PM | SHOW 3PM

Masterworks & Mimosas: Get a behind-the-scenes look at how the symphony perfects their work in the final moments with James at the dress rehearsal. Masterworks & Mimosas lets you be a part of the inner workings of the orchestra while enjoying a mimosas, coffee, and gourmet pastries. Join us at 10am on Saturday, May 11th. You can also subscribe to all 6 Masterworks and Mimosas for only $156.

LoweDown: On Thursday, May 9th at Noon, Music Director James Lowe gives you the “LoweDown” on the music. It’s a free, fascinating, and light-hearted talk about the music. Held at the Northwest Museum of Arts and Culture (MAC).

Dmitri Shostakovich
Festive Overture, Op. 96

Composer: born September 25, 1906, St. Petersburg, Russia; died August 9, 1975, Moscow, USSR

Work composed: Autumn 1954. Shostakovich wrote this overture in three days.

World premiere: November 6, 1954. Aleksandr Melik-Peshayev led the orchestra of the Bolshoi Theatre in Moscow.

Instrumentation:
orchestra: 3 flutes (1 doubles piccolo), 3 oboes, 3 clarinets, 3 bassoons (1 doubling contrabassoon), 4 horns, 3 trumpets, 3 trombones, tuba, timpani, bass drum, cymbals, snare drum, triangle, and strings
Additional brass band: 4 horns, 3 trumpets, 3 trombones

Estimated duration: 5 minutes

“The speed with which he wrote was truly astounding. Moreover, when he wrote light music, he was able to talk, make jokes and compose simultaneously, like the legendary Mozart. He laughed and chuckled, and in the meanwhile work was under way and the music was being written down.” Lev Lebedinsky, a Soviet musicologist and good friend of Dmitri Shostakovich, recalled the circumstances under which Shostakovich produced his Festive Overture, Op. 96, in late October 1954.

On first hearing, this boisterously celebratory music, written as a last-minute request from the music director of the Bolshoi Theatre for a concert commemorating the 37th anniversary of the 1917 October Revolution, sounds like a straightforward expression of triumph. But, as fans of Shostakovich know, hardly anything he wrote can be termed “straightforward.” The precarious circumstances of Shostakovich’s artistic life between 1936 and the death of Joseph Stalin in 1953 required the composer to practice a kind of artistic subterfuge. His music from these decades is layered with ideas that can be understood as oblique references to the dictator’s ruthless purging of many artists during the 1930s and 40s, but these ideas are carefully nuanced to protect Shostakovich from becoming yet another artistic victim. As Shostakovich explained many years later, “An artist whose portrait did not resemble the leader [Stalin] disappeared forever. So did the writer who used ‘crude words.’ No one entered into aesthetic discussions with them or asked them to explain themselves. Someone came for them at night. That’s all. These were not isolated cases, not exceptions. You must understand that.”

So the Festive Overture, with its rowdy exuberance, is also an ironic commentary on the formulaic propaganda music demanded by the Soviet state. Shostakovich scholar Gerard McBurney characterizes the opening as “a colossal and splendidly vulgar fanfare,” and notes that the overture’s main theme comes from the composer’s controversial 1936 opera Lady Macbeth of the Mtsensk District, a work that almost cost Shostakovich his life when it was denounced in print by Stalin.

 

Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart
Exsultate, jubilate, K. 165

Composer: born January 27, 1756, Salzburg; died December 5, 1791, Vienna

Work composed: late 1772. Rev. c. 1780

World premiere: Castrato Venanzio Rauzzini sang the premiere at the Church of St. Antonio Abate in Milan on January 17, 1773, in celebration of the Feast of St. Anthony.

Instrumentation: solo soprano, 2 oboes (or 2 flutes), 2 horns, strings, and organ continuo with bassoon

Estimated duration: 16 minutes

In early November 1772, 16-year-old Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart, accompanied by his mother Anna, arrived in Milan for the premiere of Mozart’s opera Lucio Silla. Mother and son remained in Milan for the duration of the opera’s run, about five weeks. In between rehearsals and performances, Mozart composed a quasi-religious motet for the opera’s primo uomo (leading man), a well-known castrato named Venanzio Rauzzini, who, according to Mozart’s father Leopold, “sang like an angel.”

The text of Exsultate, jubilate has religious undertones – the closing Alleluia references the Virgin Mary – but is not liturgical; Rauzzini himself may have brought the text to Mozart. It calls on “blessed souls” to sing with joy, and commands the heavens themselves join in celebration.

Mozart composed the vocal part to showcase Rauzzini’s dazzling vocal agility. The melodic lines feature a series of supple coloratura passages, along with soaring legato phrases worthy of an opera aria. It is impossible to miss the rippling joy of closing Alleluia, with its lissome notes shimmering in the air.

Riccardo Drigo
“Pas de deux” from Le Corsaire

Composer: born June 30, 1846, Padua, Italy; died October 1, 1930, Padua

Work composed: 1931

World premiere: 1931

Instrumentation: 3 flutes, 2 oboes, English horn, 2 clarinets, bass clarinet, 3 bassoons, 4 horns, 2 trumpets, 2 cornets, 3 trombones, tuba, timpani, bass drum, glockenspiel, snare drum, triangle, harp, and strings

Estimated duration: 8 minutes

Le Corsaire, an 1856 French ballet with music by Adolphe Adam, has undergone many transformations over its lifetime. In 1899, the great French/Russian choreographer Marius Petipa revived and substantially altered Le Corsaire for the Imperial Ballet in St. Petersburg; it is Petipa’s version that is performed today.

The pas de deux on tonight’s performance comes neither from the original ballet nor from Petipa’s revisions. It was created in 1931 by Agrippina Vaganova, a noted Soviet ballet pedagogue who had studied with Petipa. She used some of the original ballet’s existing choreography as a showcase for two of her star students, Natalia Dudinskaya and Konstantin Sergeyev. Vaganova’s pas de deux has since become a stand-alone showpiece, and was made famous in the West by Rudolph Nureyev and Mikhail Baryshnikov, among others. None of pas de deux music originates from Adam’s original score. Instead, Vaganova assembled a musical pastiche featuring excerpts from several composers. Italian composer Riccardo Drigo, who held the post of kapellmeister and music director of the Imperial Ballet in St. Petersburg, is often credited as the music’s author. In fact, Drigo only contributed the music Vaganova used for the pas de deux’ Adagio.

Pyotr Ilyich Tchaikovsky
Symphony No. 4 in F minor, Op. 36

 Composer: born May 7, 1840, Kamsko-Votinsk, Viatka province, Russia; died November 6, 1893, St. Petersburg

Work composed: 1877-78. Dedicated to Nadezhda von Meck

World premiere: Nikolai Rubinstein led the Russian Musical Society orchestra on February 22, 1878, in Moscow

 Instrumentation: piccolo, 2 flutes, 2 oboes, 2 clarinets, 2 bassoons, 4 horns, 2 trumpets, 3 trombones, tuba, timpani, bass drum, cymbals, triangle, and strings.

 Estimated duration: 44 minutes

When a former student from the Moscow Conservatory challenged Pyotr Ilyich Tchaikovsky about the “program” for his fourth symphony, the composer responded, “Of course my symphony is programmatic, but this program is such that it cannot be formulated in words. That would excite ridicule and appear comic … In essence, my symphony is an imitation of Beethoven’s Fifth; i.e., I imitated not the musical ideas, but the fundamental concept.”

In December 1876, Tchaikovsky began an epistolary relationship with Mrs. Nadezhda von Meck, a wealthy widow and ardent fan of Tchaikovsky’s music. Mme. von Meck offered to become Tchaikovsky’s patron on the condition that they never meet in person; the introverted Tchaikovsky agreed. Soon after von Meck first wrote to Tchaikovsky, he began the Fourth Symphony. As he worked, Tchaikovsky kept von Meck informed of his progress. He dedicated the Fourth Symphony “to my best friend,” which simultaneously paid tribute to von Meck and insured her privacy.

Beginning with the Fourth Symphony, Tchaikovsky launched a musical exploration of the concept of Fate as an inescapable force. In a letter to Mme. von Meck, Tchaikovsky explained, “The introduction is the seed of the whole symphony, undoubtedly the central theme. This is Fate, i.e., that fateful force which prevents the impulse to happiness from entirely achieving its goal, forever on jealous guard lest peace and well-being should ever be attained in complete and unclouded form, hanging above us like the Sword of Damocles, constantly and unremittingly poisoning the soul. Its force is invisible and can never be overcome. Our only choice is to surrender to it, and to languish fruitlessly.”

The Fate motive blasts open the symphony with a proclamation from the brasses and bassoons. “One’s whole life is just a perpetual traffic between the grimness of reality and one’s fleeting dreams of happiness,” Tchaikovsky wrote of this movement. This theme returns later in the movement and at the end of the fourth, a reminder of destiny’s inescapability.

The beauty of the solo oboe that begins the Andantino beckons, and the yearning countermelody of the strings surges with surprising energy before it subsides. In the Scherzo, Tchaikovsky departs from the heaviness of the previous movements with pizzicato strings. Tchaikovsky described this playful movement as a series of “capricious arabesques.”

As in the first movement, the Finale bursts forth with a blaze of sound. Marked Allegro con fuoco (with fire), the music builds to a raging inferno. Abruptly, Fate returns and the symphony concludes with barely controlled frenzy, accented by cymbal crashes.

 

© Elizabeth Schwartz

Opera News hailed Soprano Dawn Wolski as “exquisite” for her portrayal of Lucia in The Rape of Lucretia under the baton of the late Maestro Julius Rudel. She has performed over two dozen opera roles, multiple concert works, and has been featured in television programs in Europe, China, and throughout the United States. Signature operatic repertoire includes Zerbinetta in Ariadne auf Naxos, Königin der Nacht in Die Zauberflöte, Gilda in Rigoletto, Susanna in Le nozze di Figaro, Despina in Così fan tutte, and Cunegonde in Candide. On the concert stage, favorites are Bach’s “Jauchtzet Gott” (BWV 51) and “Wedding” Cantata (BWV 202); Mozart’s Coronation MassRequiem, and Vesperae Solennes de Confessore; Poulenc’s Gloria; Faure’s Requiem; Brahms’ Ein Deutsches Requiem; Orff’s Carmina Burana; Haydn’s Missa in Angustiis; and Schoenberg’s Pierrot Lunaire, among others. Ms. Wolski can be heard and seen on the Spokane Symphony’s 2021 video recording of Mahler’s Symphony No. 4, and will perform Mozart’s Exultate, Jubilate in Masterworks 9 later this season.

Career gems less known to her classical audiences include two enlistments in U.S. Army where she performed with the London Symphony, Boston Symphony, National Symphony, and the Cincinnati Symphony—sharing the stage with performers such as Julie Andrews, Wayne Brady, Wynonna Judd, Pam Tillis, Chris Isaak, as well as several U.S. presidents. She also spent three tours in China on prime television networks, singing both Western Classical selections and Chinese favorites. Projects closest to her heart, however, have included premiering works of living composers, as well as working in more intimate ensemble settings. She will be renewing her annual in-home recital series with Maestro Eckart Preu in May/June 2024.

Dawn holds a Master of Music Degree from Manhattan School of Music in NYC, and a BA in Music from St. Mary’s College of Maryland. She currently serves on the Voice Faculty of Eastern Washington University. 

Ticket Information:

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Phone: 509-624-1200
Box Office: The Fox Theater, 1001 West Sprague Avenue

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