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OKC Philharmonic celebrates life, spring with Sun-Drenched Celebrations


  • Michael Ives

Oklahoma City Philharmonic’s 2015 Inasmuch Foundation Classics Series begins on May 2 with Sun-Drenched Celebrations, a concert featuring four different compositions. Susan Webb, marketing and public relations director for OKC Phil, said the concert is meant as a celebration of life and is perfect for spring.

“This isn’t just a celebration of life and music,” Webb said. “It’s also a celebration of the different cultures that produced the music. There is an echo of the different ethnicities that underlines the orchestration.”

“Danzón No. 2,” the first composition to be performed, is the work of Mexican composer Arturo Márquez. He was touring the salons of Veracruz when he first heard the danzóns that are associated with that region.

“He took those rhythms and melodies and made his own comp- ositions,” Webb said. “They are light and sensual and reflect the region of Veracruz where they originated.”

OKC Phil’s Joel Levine will conduct the four pieces in Sun-Drenched Celebrations, beginning with “Dancón No. 2” and then Ottorino Respighi’s “Roman Festivals.” The piece is the third in Respighi’s Roman trilogy. Webb describes it as an emotional rollercoaster that moves between a roar and a light melody.

The trilogy is really a symphonic poem, and the material in “Roman Festivals” can seem a bit out of control or cacophonous, but it accurately reflects the turmoil and chaos of the massive Roman celebrations, many of which involved revelry, drunkenness and even gladiatorial contests — not exactly the kind of subject that inspires tightly controlled melodies.

Manuel de Falla’s “The Three- Cornered Hat: Suite No. 2” is the third composition. The piece was commissioned as part of a ballet that debuted in 1919. Léonide Massine choreographed the ballet, and when it debuted at the Alhambra Theatre in London, the sets and costumes were designed by Pablo Picasso, adding even more Spanish flavor to the selection.

The final piece of the night returns to Rome and once again features Respighi. The finale is the second piece of the Roman trilogy, “Pines of Rome.”

“The music is lighthearted and upbeat, even jubilant,” Webb said. “And this piece was the first to feature a prerecorded soundtrack with an orchestra. The soundtrack is a nightingale’s call in the third movement.”

The pines in the piece are the pines associated with different parts of Rome, including the Via Appia Antica, the Villa Borghese and the catacombs. The music is inspired by people or events associated with the locations, so the composition is blithe when children are at play and triumphal and martial when the legions of Rome are the subject.

Webb said the Philharmonic’s young professionals group, Overture, is growing very fast, and Sun-Drenched Celebrations will offer a special incentive for other young professionals who might be interested in orchestral music.

“When they buy a ticket, they will be able to RSVP for the after-party and attend for free,” Webb said.

Print headline: Spring songs, OKC Philharmonic salutes the season.


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