Experience ‘Music and Magic’ with the Westmoreland Symphony
Successful musical performances conjure their own magic, but the Westmoreland Symphony Orchestra’s next concert will showcase vibrant music telling a story in which magic itself is central.
Daniel Meyer will conduct the Westmoreland Symphony in “Music and Magic” on March 16 at The Palace Theatre, Greensburg. The program is Manuel de Falla’s “El amor brujo,” with mezzo-soprano Corrie Stallings, Franz Joseph Haydn’s Cello Concerto in C major with soloist Amit Peled, and Franz Schubert’s Symphony No. 3.
Falla wrote “El amor brujo” (Love the Magician) after returning to Spain following the outbreak of World War I. He had spent the previous seven years in Paris, where he was influenced by the city’s music life led by impressionist composers Claude Debussy and Maurice Ravel, as well as by Igor Stravinsky.
“It’s a kind of multimedia piece and was from its inception,” says Meyer. “It’s always danced and sung and somehow acted. It’s like cantata meets opera meets ballet before that became fashionable.”
The piece tells the story of Candelas, whose gypsy lover recently died. She can’t escape his spirit, despite having fallen in love with another man but the ballet ends with her new love unimpeded.
The performance will feature guest dancers Iffy Roma and David McKay performing choreography by Otis Cook
Clean copy found
Haydn enjoyed a long, extremely productive and very successful life, among other things virtually inventing the symphony and string quartet as central expressions of music. He wrote two cello concertos. The earlier one being performed by the Westmoreland Symphony, was lost until 1961 when a clean copy was discovered in the Prague National Museum in Czechoslovakia, just over two centuries after it was written.
Meyer notes that classical era composers such as Haydn and Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart, “had access to and were fascinated by early Italian and baroque music. They enjoyed looking backwards at Bach and Handel. The jaunty and stately rhythms (of this concerto) are attributable to love for baroque ancestors.”
Cellist to play
Soloist Amit Peled is an Israeli cellist whose career is taking off with engagements with leading orchestras and a growing discography of recordings. He stands 6 feet 5 inches, and played basketball before turning to his profession in a different “team sport,” making music.
The concert will conclude with an early piece by one of Meyer’s desert island composers.
“I’m fascinated by the sheer variety, invention and beauty of the music Schubert wrote, as well as the cross pollination between his song writing and his instrumental writing,” he says. “In his early symphonies, in particular, there’s a wonderful melodic sensibility he doesn’t try to disguise. In fact, he capitalized on it, which is what makes it so delightful.”
The clarinet is featured prominently, first giving out the first theme of the main part of the opening movement. It’s a musical idea not far from yodeling. Another Austrian folk music influence is heard in the clarinet solo in the middle section of the second movement.
Meyer suggests Schubert must have known an excellent clarinetist who would have relished playing this music. The ebullient finale is almost a saltarello, he adds, which provides an exciting conclusion to the symphony.
Mark Kanny is a Tribune-Review contributing writer.