Okanagan Symphony Orchestra will be rehashing the feeling of championing a newly exploited North America before a Penticton audience.
Symphony conductor Rosemary Thomson said the orchestra’s goal is to share the composers’ vision with the audience.
Classical composer Antonín Dvořák’s From the New World is a musical record of his time as a visiting professor at the National Conservatory of Music of America in New York City. He moved there in the late 1800s from his native Bohemia (now Czech Republic) when he was in his early 50s.
“New York was a pretty exciting place then,” said Thomson. “There was a lot of immigration, so there were many traditions being started in America, and New York was the place to do it.”
Dvořák had mainly studied European folk influences up until then, and he was enthralled by the musical cultures of both First Narions and African Americans.
“What he played was his own composed music but he was inspired by the music he heard in the Americas, and he really felt like what was unique to their culture would be the future of composition in America,” Thomson said. “He was the first person, even though he was European, to use America’s indigenous music and inspiration in orchestral writing.”
Thomson said next to Beethoven’s Symphony No. 5, From the New World is probably the most popular symphony ever written.
“It’s traditionally slow and has a beautiful melody that was inspired by the voice of an African American singer.”
Dvořák delivers limitless melodic writing, she said, much like Mozart and Tchaikovsky.
“He has very infectious rhythms, lots of syncopation and driving rhythms and they’re very exciting to listen to,” Thomson said. “I feel both a connection to this sort of North American folk music, and also a longing – you can hear the longing for home, so it has a mix of his Czech heritage and this American experience – lots of emotion can be expressed.”
Another piece being delivered by the Orchestra will be Finlandia by Jean Sibelius, in honour of his 150th birthday which is on Dec. 8.
“It has quiet beginning that grows into an exhilarating, uplifting finale – and that’s what music can do, it can really express what was going on politically,” she said.
As a Finnish citizen, Sibelius wrote that song as protest against censorship by the Russian Empire, which had been limiting freedom of the press.
“And Finlandia is still relevant 120 years later,” she said. “You can hear these grand landscapes, and I relate to his music so well because we have those same landscapes in Canada. The audience will feel the exhilaration for sure.”
Joining the orchestra for their opening performance of the season will be Martin Beaver, who’s been a guest artist with many orchestras around the world.
“We open our season with incredible Canadian violin sensation Martin Beaver, and is one of Canada’s violin ambassadors to the international concert stages,” Thomson said.
The show begins at at 7:30 p.m. on Oct. 17 at the Cleland Theatre. A pre-concert chat begins at 6:30 p.m. Tickets cost $56.25 for adults; $49.00 for seniors and $26.75 for youth, and can be purchased through their website okanagansymphony.com or by calling 250-862-2867.