Manchester Symphony Orchestra to present ‘Nordic Winter’ Saturday

By Karen Greer
For the Journal Inquirer
Feb 6, 2020

No matter how cold the weather, Manchester Symphony Orchestra and Chorale is planning a warm welcome for concertgoers on Saturday, Feb. 8, at 7:30 p.m. at Manchester High School, as orchestra Music Director Luca Antonucci conducts the Manchester Symphony Orchestra in “Nordic Winter.”

In far Northern Europe, the surest and most abundant warmth is the comfort of friendship and family life. Recent best-selling books and trendy restaurants have popularized this idea as hygge, a word often translated as “cozy.” The music for this concert is as dramatic and changeable as the frigid Nordic landscape, but also deeply connected to familiar people and places.

Danish composer Carl Nielsen wrote some of the most innovative music of his time. Even his “Symphony No. 1,” completed in 1892 and dedicated to his new bride, has rapid changes in harmonic style that create dynamic shifts in mood.

At the same time, Nielsen wrote many popular works expressing his fondness and familiarity with Danish traditional music. His contributions to a project to create a Danish national songbook are still sung by generations of Danes.

A family connection helped shape the career of Pärt Uusberg, 33, of Estonia. Uusberg is active not only as a composer, but as an actor and leader of the chamber choir that he formed to provide music for a play written by his brother.

“Uusberg had been on my radar since I participated in a summer workshop a couple of years ago with performances of some of his choral music,” recalls Antonucci. “I reached out to him to ask if he had anything for orchestra.”

Antonucci soon heard back from Uusberg directly, and together they were able to arrange the North American premiere of Avanemised (in English, Openings). Like Carl Nielsen, Uusberg uses subtle harmonic changes to shift the mood. In this short work, the music moves seamlessly from brass fanfares to the gentle sounding of a single chime.

Greg Spiridopoulos
Greg Spiridopoulos

The inspiration for Launy Grøndahl’s Trombone Concerto was the brass section of the Casino Theatre in Copenhagen, an orchestra he had played in since he was 13 years old. The soloist for this performance is Greg Spiridopoulos, principal trombone of the Albany Symphony Orchestra and numerous other orchestras. Spiridopoulos is also a professor of music at University of Massachusetts, Amherst, trombonist in the internationally acclaimed Empire Brass Quintet, and frequently performs with well-known jazz ensembles and big bands.

“Nordic Winter” will be performed in Bailey Auditorium with a pre-concert talk by Antonucci at 6:45 p.m.

Tickets may be purchased at the door. Prices are $18; $15 for seniors; and free for youths younger than 18, students of any age, and military personnel.

For more information, call 860-646-0047, email MusicSix (at), visit the Manchester Symphony Orchestra and Chorale on its Facebook page or go to: