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Philharmonic launches season with Classics


Simone Lamsma - PROVIDED
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  • Simone Lamsma

Renowned Dutch violinist Simone Lamsma joins the Oklahoma City Philharmonic and conductor Joel Levine to kick off the 2014-15 Classics series with a night of music titled Friends & Lovers.

Lamsma began studying the violin at age 5 and moved from Belgium to the United Kingdom at age 11 to attend the Yehudi Menuhin School and Royal Academy of Music. At 29, she has performed all over the world and received high praise for her abilities from critics, audiences and peers.

The theme Friends & Lovers refers to the stories and relationships that directly inspired the creation of the pieces being performed.

The concert will open with Hector Berlioz’s dramatic “Overture to Benvenuto Cellini,” from an opera that recounts a mostly fictionalized story of forbidden love between Cellini, a 14th century Italian artist, and Teresa, who is being forced by her father to wed a rival artist.

Continuing in the romantic vein, Richard Strauss’ tone poem, “Don Juan,” is inspired by the story of the legendary lover.

“This is a character who took enormous pride and satisfaction in womanizing and seduction,” said OKC Phil Executive Director Eddie Walker. “Today’s reality TV would eat him up.” It’s not all fun and games, though.

Strauss based his piece on a more melancholy version of the Don Juan story, in which a drive to find the perfect woman inspires his many conquests and has the great seducer willing his own death after failing to find his ideal mate.

Walker said the two final compositions of the night are perfect examples of the strong influence that friendships and the effect that being in close proximity to extraordinary talent can have on artists.

“George Enescu’s Romani-influenced ‘Rumanian Rhapsody No. 1’ was written when he was only 19 years old and is dedicated to a college friend with whom he shared a counterpoint class,” Walker said. “Edouard Lalo’s ‘Symphonie Espanol’ was written for his friend, the legendary violinist and closet composer Pablo de Sarasate. In fact, it was their meeting when Lalo was around 50 years of age and hearing Sarasate’s fiery playing that brought Lalo out of a long compositional funk. He had, in fact, given up composing for a long while.”

“Symphony Espanol,” which will feature Lamsma on violin, stands out from other concerti of that period due to it having five movements. Walker said that it was customary in the early 20th century to omit the middle movement.

“Today, we find this a bit odd since that movement contains some of the most passionate and fiery writing in the concerto,” Walker said. “It’s a gorgeous work, and Ms. Lamsma’s performance of it should be one to remember.”

Friends & Lovers

8 p.m. Saturday

Civic Center Music Hall

201 N. Walker Ave.



Print headline:

Phil callings

The Oklahoma City Philharmonic’s Classics series begins with a collection ripe for the orchestral picking.

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