MSOC opens its 51st year with Eroica! on Oct. 30

By Erin Dutton
For The Journal Inquirer
October 28, 2010

MANCHESTER — The Manchester Symphony Orchestra and Chorale (MSOC) begins its 51st season with the concert Eroica! on Saturday, Oct. 30, at 7:30 p.m. in the SBM Auditorium at Manchester Community College, Great Path. Under the direction of Lewis J. Buckley, the orchestra will present works by Beethoven, Bach, and Glinka.

Tickets are $18 for adults, $15 for seniors and students 18 and over, and free for all under 18.

The concert will open with Mikhail Glinka’s “Ruslan and Ludmilla Overture.” Glinka’s work was composed as an opera, and based on a poem by Alexander Pushkin. The poem was written as an epic fairy tale. Pushkin intended to write the libretto, but was killed in a duel, leaving the work to be completed by several different authors.

The overture is the most well-known section of the opera. The music is energetic from start to finish, and promises to be great fun for the audience.

Johann Sebastian Bach’s “Concerto for Violin No. 1 in A Minor” is a grand and majestic work. Bach’s Concerto dates from 1748, when he was residing in Leipzig. Bach’s professional life during this period was primarily dedicated to sacred works. As the concerto was written as a secular piece, many Bach scholars consider this work may have been composed many years prior.

The MSOC’s presentation of Bach’s piece showcases violinist Cynthia Knotts. She is in her fifth season serving as the concertmaster of the Manchester Symphony Orchestra, and has performed the concerto once before with the orchestra. In 2008 the selection was performed at a benefit concert for school music programs in Tolland. During the orchestra’s previous season, audiences enjoyed Knotts’ musicianship with the exquisite incidental solos in Vaughan-Williams’ “Serenade to Music,” and a humorous illustration of the “cadenza” in “The Composer is Dead.”

The title piece for the concert is Ludwig von Beethoven’s “Third Symphony, the Eroica.” Beethoven highly regarded the egalitarian ideals of the French Revolution, and planned to dedicate this symphony to Napoleon Bonaparte. When Bonaparte declared himself emperor in 1804, Beethoven crossed the name out fervently. The title page was changed to read “Sinfonia eroica, composta per festeggiare il sovvenire d’un grand’uomo,” translating to “heroic symphony, composed to celebrate the memory of a great man.”

As conductor of the orchestra, Buckley states, Beethoven’s “Eroica” is one of the giant works of the symphonic literature. Many feel that although Beethoven wrote five more symphonies after the “Eroica”, none, including his famous Ninth Symphony, exceeded the “Eroica” for purity of style, beauty and emotional weight.” For those who already know and love this work, Buckley says, “It is so beautiful the listener can just sink into it as into a favorite easy chair.”

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