Letter from the Music Director
Welcome to our boldest season yet. It reflects the confidence and trust I have in the artistic abilities of the Rogue Valley Symphony. My motivation, as always, is to deliver you performances of the highest order. Still, that by itself is not enough. Good programs delight and enrich in equal measure. They bring back memories and open new horizons. From any viewpoint, 2022/23 is a season of riches that I am eager to share!
The inaugural concert introduces one of the most heralded musicians on the scene today. Anthony McGill entered the broad public eye thanks to the combination of his talent and activism. The concerto we selected, written specifically for him, offers an opportunity to get to know Anthony’s drive and passion.
The pandemic-delayed visit of the composer and concert pianist phenom, Michael Brown, gives both sides of his personality room to shine. The toast to Beethoven feels as timely in 2022 as it did back in 2020! On its heels, Britton-René Collins will astound you by her virtuosity, playfulness and lyrical maturity. She is perfectly positioned to make marimba your next favorite solo instrument. A warm welcome will be given to Alexander Sitkovetsky in January. A friend of the orchestra is back to tackle one of the most formidable violin concertos in the literature. The Earth-shattering opus by Shostakovich promises a memorable concert experience. Next up, Michelle Cann, whom we witnessed rise from “known” to “star” as we were discussing her visit! Michelle brings a double bill of concert pieces by Florence Price and Richard Strauss.
I would like to point out two selections in our season that may be less familiar. First, William Dawson’s Negro Folk Symphony, an unjustly sidelined piece. It has all the might of Dvořák’s big opuses, to which it adds a distinctly American high-voltage energy. Speaking of high voltage, La Noche de los Mayas by Silvestre Revueltas must be propelled by a nuclear reactor. This one is an instant blockbuster!
The grand Planets by Holst, accompanied by visuals, closes the season of superlatives. It is, however, not our only production with theatrical elements. For Passio by Arvo Pärt, the concert hall will be treated like a theater: it will be enhanced by lighting design to make this dramatic retelling of St. John’s Gospel a deeply felt contemplation.
Here is to finding many unforgettable moments together in 2022/23. I cannot wait to welcome you to the concert hall!
Masterworks 1: Onward & Upward!
Anthony McGill’s (below) solo in the “From the Mountaintop” Concerto lies in the center of a program that is focused on Martin Luther King Jr. It is complemented by Schubert’s Unfinished Symphony, reflecting on the brevity of MLK’s life, and Richard Strauss’s Death and Transfiguration, used here as a metaphor for the legacy that remains vital to this day. In the words of Dr. King himself, “Keep moving, for it may well be that the greatest song has not yet been sung, the greatest book has not been written, the highest mountain has not been climbed.”
Photo by Southern Oregon Drone
Masterworks 2: Avenue of the Giant
Happy 252nd birthday, Beethoven! Yes, this concert was going to happen in 2020 but we do not mind giving Beethoven this belated salute. Michael Stephen Brown (below) wrote a piece to celebrate Beethoven and we will round out the program with Symphony No. 7 – which happens to be the piece that won Martin the Music Director position back in 2009. Shout Beethoven from the mountain tops with us!
Photo by Adam Marland of We Dream of Travel
Masterworks 3: A Bold Amen
The alluring energy of Simon’s Amen, inspired by the music of the Pentecostal church, opens the boldest concert of the season. A young mallet sensation, Britton-René Collins (below), brings to life the cinematic music of Japanese composer Keiko Abe. Dawson’s Negro Folk Symphony, a long-neglected masterpiece, is the 20th century “From the New World!” Take this irresistible climb with us.
Photo by @rainwaterimages
Masterworks 4: Songs of the Steppes
Back by popular demand: Alexander Sitkovetsky (below) guides us through the colossal story that is Shostakovitch’s First Violin Concerto. The profound tones of the Soviet composer’s “iron man” concerto – dubbed so due to its extreme soloistic demands – come on the heel of Borodin’s lushly grand and triumphant Heroic Symphony.
Photo by Sean Bagshaw
Masterworks 5: Hidden Gems
A program of extremes begins with Walker’s superb lament for strings and ends with an epic celebration of Mayan culture, utilizing 13 different percussion instruments! Michelle Cann’s (below) meteoric rise to stardom happened while we were talking to her – her Price’s Concerto with Philadelphia became a sensation. Our assent with Cann adds another jewel here: Strauss’s Burleske.
Photo by Ronnie Chua
Masterworks 6: Celestial Pathways
Our Season Finale opens with one of Martin’s favorites: a Romantic tone poem about a mountain range in his native Slovakia. The sonic spectacle of The Planets turns into an immersive experience of cosmic proportions with added choreographed visuals of the solar system by Seattle-based visual artist Adrian Wyard.
The Tatras Mountains have inspired many an artist, not just in music, but poetry, mythology, and literature, such as this by Kazimierz Przerwa-Tetmajer:
There is such peace there… Onto the slopes
Light pours through the translucent fog
Onto the somnolescent greenery of the mountains.
Burbling far away through the stones,
A stream sparkles in the sun and becomes
A silver-rainbow line.
Photo by Tomáš Šereda
Special Event: Arvo Pärt‘s Passio
This dramatic retelling of the Passion story will have you enthralled. “Mystic minimalism” or “holy minimalism” is how the music of Arvo Pärt has been described. It embraces Gregorian chant, Medieval, and Renaissance music. It truly feels like a message from the distant past, intended for our times.
This is music of the utmost economy dictated by words drawn from St John’s Gospel. The evangelist’s narrative is shared by a quartet of singers supported intermittently by a quartet of instruments, violin, oboe, cello and bassoon, while Jesus, sung by baritone José Rubio, is always underpinned by the organ. Tenor Brian Thorsett assumes the role of Pilate. A chorus of 16 complete the ensemble.
If you do not know Pärt, get ready to fall under his spell. In 2014, The Daily Telegraph described Pärt as possibly “the world’s greatest living composer.” His Passio is one experience you will not forget.
One Performance Only
Saturday, April 1, 2023 • 3:00pm
Photo by John Theodor