Alexandria: New Season Focuses on Symphonic Traditions

Alexandria: New Season Focuses on Symphonic Traditions

— Where have all the symphonies gone? To the Silver Screen! Contemporary symphonic film composers are carrying on the tradition of Wagner, Tchaikovsky and Puccini by writing music that accompanies theatrical genres. Cinema has become symphonic music's new concert hall. Film composers are creating a vast new global audience for symphonic music that transcends age, ethnicity and socio-economics, linking the old and new symphonic traditions — a circle unbroken!

Each concert in the Alexandria Symphony Orchestra's 2015-2016 Season focuses on one contemporary film composer and explores the composers and symphonic traditions that shaped that unique musical style.

The season opener, “The Fantastic,” features music from John Williams's film scores to “ET” and “Star Wars.” The concert includes orchestral showpieces with fantastically exuberant music and orchestrations, including Gustav Holst’s “The Planets,” in its entirety. When George Lucas first approached John Williams to arrange “The Planets” for use as the film score to “Star Wars,” Williams instead suggested he write an entirely original score that would be much better suited to the movie. He succeeded in writing one of the most celebrated film scores of all time.

The next concert of the season, “Whimsy & Wonderment,” explores the profound influence that Prokofiev and Stravinsky exerted on the evolution of Danny Elfman's musical style. Fascinated by the macabre, sarcastic and parody-like elements in the music of these two Russian masters, Elfman incorporates this same whimsical quality through his scores to “Spiderman” and “Edward Scissorhands.”

“The Dramatic” explores the influence of Verismo Italian opera on the musical style of “The Godfather’s” composer Nino Rota. Director Martin Scorsese asked Rota to embody the Verismo sound in his film score. This emotionally supercharged Italian tradition of realism will be displayed in iconic pieces from the Verismo canon. The concert includes other masterpieces from this genre—the Intermezzo from Mascagni’s “Cavalleria Rusticana” featured in Scorsese’s “Raging Bull “as well as arias from Puccini’s “La Bohème” and ‘Madama Butterfly.”

“Lushness & Lyricism” pairs James Newton Howard's lyrical setting of “Peter Pan” with three lushly Romantic masterpieces from the classical canon including the Waltz from Tchaikovsky's “Swan Lake,” Bruch's “Scottish Fantasy” and Smetana's “The Moldau.” The ASO welcomes back “America’s violinist” Jenny Oaks Baker to headline “Scottish Fantasy.”

The season finale — “The Transformative” — features the work of composers who were great bridge builders between seemingly disparate styles of music. Aaron Copland bridged the musical styles of American folk music with the European classical style, redefining American classical music. George Gershwin bridged the contrasting styles of jazz and classical music. Today, Hans Zimmer bridges the styles of classical music with electronic music and ethnic traditions. This American musical eclecticism, known as the “great melting pot,” is celebrated in “The American Concerto for Piano & Orchestra,” receiving its world premiere in the ASO’s season finale. Composed by husband-wife team of Kim Allen Kluge and Kathryn Vassar Kluge, you will hear folk-like melodies reminiscent of Stephen Foster and Aaron Copland as well as jazz-tinged echoes of Gershwin and Cole Porter. Thomas Pandolfi returns to the ASO stage to unveil this new American masterpiece.