Folk music takes center stage at end-of-season concert
The Waco Symphony Orchestra will be joined by guest violinist Jolente de Maeyer in its last concert of the season. The orchestra will perform three pieces all rooted in folk music.
The program will begin at 7:30 p.m. Thursday in Waco Hall. Tickets are $7 for students and start at $20 for general admission.
First, the orchestra will perform Austrian composer Franz Joseph Haydn’s Symphony No. 88, composed in 1787.
Stephen Heyde, conductor of the Waco Symphony Orchestra, said Haydn’s 88th is one of his most frequently performed symphonies. In total, Haydn wrote more than 100 symphonies.
Heyde said he thinks the 88th is sprightly and melodic, and has a “rustic village, peasant kind of feel.” He compared it to a comfortable old shoe and said the piece has enormous energy.
He also said there is a section in the third movement that is dance-like and emulates the sound of bagpipes.
“This is music of the people. This is not music of the court or the refined classes or the elite,” Heyde said.
He said the symphony is reflective of a more tranquil, less hectic time.
Heyde said certain things make this symphony challenging. He said it’s hard to get the 18th century style right. He also said the fact that the piece was written for smaller halls and not the cavernous acoustics of Waco Hall makes it challenging.
The program will continue with Hungarian composer Zoltán Kodály’s (pronounced Ko-die-ee) “Dances of Galanta,” which was composed in 1933.
Kodály grew up in Galanta, which used to be in northern Hungary but is now part of Slovakia, where he heard the gypsy music that inspired the piece.
“It’s really fun. It’s a really exciting piece,” Heyde said.
Heyde said the piece is inspired by the kinds of songs that were used to recruit people into the army, a genre of Hungarian music called verbunkos.
He said one of the interesting things about the piece is that it emulates the sounds of gypsy instruments using a traditional symphony orchestra.
“It’s tremendously removed from our culture,” he said, describing it as “very Slavic.”
He also said the piece features virtuosic clarinet cadenzas (soloistic passages), which will be played by Dr. Jun Qian, assistant professor of clarinet at Baylor.
“He’s an artist of the first rank,” Heyde said of Qian.
Heyde said the piece is challenging because it’s fast and hasseveral tempo changes and odd key signatures. He also said it makes prevalent use of short-long-short rhythms.
The program will conclude with Russian composer Pyotr Ilyich Tchaikovsky’s Violin Concerto which was composed in 1878. The entire piece was composed in less than a month and is considered one of the greatest violin concertos in the repertoire.
Acclaimed Belgian violinist Jolente de Maeyer will be featured at the concert.
“She’s very impressive. She’s a big talent. She’s already well-known in Europe but this will be her American premiere,” Heyde said.
Heyde said the concerto is an absolutely spectacular piece based on Russian folk songs. “It’s just a big, fat Romantic piece. It’s great,” Heyde said.
He also said it’s fiendishly difficult for the violinist. It requires playing double stops (playing two notes simultaneously), leaps (large intervals), fast runs up and down the instrument, using the high registers of the instrument, awkward key signatures and difficult rhythms.
Heyde said one of the challenges of playing violin concertos in general is getting the balance right, so the orchestra doesn’t overpower the soloist. Also, the orchestra has to be able to keep up with the lightning speed of the soloist.
Heyde said people should come hear an exceptional artist play such virtuosic music so effortlessly. “It’s inspiring,” he said.
He said he’s looking forward to the concert. “I love all three pieces,” he said.
He also said there will be a surprise for the audience during the concert.
The Speight Parking Facility is available for the concert. There is no dress code for the performance.
Tickets can be purchased online at www.wacosymphony.com or at the door, depending on availability.