Symphony to open with three masterpieces


Arundel Live

Arts and entertainment in Anne Arundel County

September 09, 2005|By Mary Johnson | Mary Johnson,SPECIAL TO THE SUN

The Londontowne Symphony Orchestra, which exists to provide a local venue for audiences - and performers - who are passionate about classical music, begins its third concert season a week from tonight under the direction of guest conductor Julien Benichou.

The 40-member symphony consists of many professional musicians who donate their time, as well as skilled musicians from Anne Arundel County who are also music teachers, college professors, retired entertainers and gifted students who are eager to perform with an orchestra that strives for excellence.

Benichou is the music director of the Chesapeake Youth Symphony, assistant conductor of the Johns Hopkins Symphony and was recently appointed conductor of the Pre-College Chamber Orchestra at the prestigious Juilliard School. The French native's teachers have included Gustav Meier of the Peabody Conservatory.

The season-opening program Sept. 16 will feature three classical masterworks.

George Frideric Handel's Music for the Royal Fireworks was written in 1749 to celebrate the end of the War of the Austrian Succession. Filled with pomp, pageantry and joy, Handel's work continues to delight audiences with its spirit and color that reflect this native German composer who was trained in Italy and became a British citizen.

Samuel Barber's 1950 orchestral song Knoxville: Summer of 1915 was adapted from a text by poet and essayist James Agee. The post-Romantic reminiscence of a summer night 50 years after the Civil War and two years before the United States became involved in World War I portrays past sadness and future fears. A rocking motif is heard beneath a child's sung prayer that becomes fused with an adult's expression of loneliness.

Soprano Tracey Hall will join LSO in a vocal performance of the Barber work. Hall was recently heard as Klytemnestra at Catholic University in Washington, where she will return in a recital that will include a song cycle written for her.

The concert will conclude with Johannes Brahms' autumnal Symphony No. 2 in D Major. Composed in 1877, this work, described on one Web site as "as happy as Brahms gets," is classically structured with two contemplative movements followed by two briefer, lighter movements, with a serene, pastoral tone throughout.

Other LSO events scheduled for this season include a Jan. 13 concert to be conducted by Shawn Eugene Burke-Storer, assistant conductor of the Baltimore Chamber Orchestra and conductor of the Chesapeake Youth Concert Orchestra, which will feature Robert Schumann's Piano Concerto, Ottorino Respighi's Pines of Rome and Brahms' Academic Festival Overture.

On April 2, William Schachter, who has taught in Anne Arundel County for 30 years, will conduct Morton Gould's An American Salute, Alexander Borodin's Polovetsian Dances and Peter Tchaikovsky's Capriccio Italienne.

Brenda Leach, director of the Towson University Orchestra, will conduct Aaron Copland's Rodeo Suite, Felix Mendelssohn's Violin Concerto and Tchaikovsky's Symphony No. 5 on June 16.

All performances are at Southern High School, 4400 Solomons Island Road in Harwood. Tickets are sold at the door and are $15, or two for $25; seniors' and students' tickets are $10. Check www.londontowne for more information.

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