The Rapides Symphony opens our 2018-19 classical concert season with a concert of “Heroes and Anti-Heroes” on Saturday, October 6th. As the concerts title indicates, this concert is music that is inspired by characters—both real and fictional—that walk the fine line between displaying heroic qualities and their adverse.
Richard Strauss wrote several well-known “tone poems” that used the sounds of the orchestra to tell the story of characters, scenes, or ideas that inspired him in a particular way. His tone poem “Don Juan”, the legendary lover, has been told by many over the centuries (most notably, musically speaking, in Mozart’s opera Don Giovanni). The version that inspired Strauss the most was by 19th Century writer Nikolaus Lenau. It is one of the great, brilliant showpieces in all of orchestral music, filled with color and character that is the hallmark of all of Strauss’ music for orchestra.
The legend of the larger-than-life outlaw Billy the Kid has inspired many movies, stories, and one “folk ballet” composed by Aaron Copland. In the suite from this ballet, Copland captures the sound of the open prairie and the wild west of Billy the Kid’s era. Though not as well-known as Copland’s music to “Rodeo” or “Appalachian Spring”, it has much of the same re-working of authentic American folk songs that make these pieces unmistakably American in their sound.
The newest piece on the program was composed in 2014 by American composer Michael Daugherty, entitled “Dreamachine”. It is a piece that features the excitement of a solo percussionist, playing music that, in the composer’s words, “is a tribute to the imagination of inventors who dream about new machines, both real and surreal. The music is inspired by images that connect man and machine in surprising ways.” Each movement of the piece is inspired by inventers from Leonardo DaVinci to Rube Goldberg. The theatrics of watching a percussionist is always mesmerizing and I’m sure the Symphony’s principal percussionist Gregory Lyons (professor of percussion at LA Tech) will not disappoint.
The concert is Saturday, October 6th at 7:30pm at the Coughlin-Saunders Performing Arts Center in downtown Alexandria. If you would like to lean a little bit more about the music that you will hear at the concert, please join us for a pre-concert “Listen Up” presentation at 6:45pm in the lobby the theater. You can still get season tickets for all of our concerts this season by calling the symphony office at (318) 442-9909 or by visiting rapidessymphony.org. Hope to see you all there!