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This preview has been provided by the North Carolina Symphony.
"Baroque music is alive, it's emotional, it's also very personal and very intimate," says Jeanette Sorrell, who will conduct from the harpsichord at the North Carolina Symphony's Bach's Double Violin Concerto concerts November 11 through 13. "What I try to do is take people on a journey so that we're all going through a shared emotional experience."
Sorrell, one of the leading figures in Baroque music today, will take audiences in Raleigh, Chapel Hill, and Southern Pines on a journey through the music of Bach, Vivaldi, Handel, and Mozart. The founder and Artistic Director of Apollo's Fire in Cleveland, Sorrell is acclaimed by BBC Music Magazine for her "vibrant, life-affirming approach to the re-making of early music" and as "a seductive vision of musical authenticity."
In each work except for the Mozart, Sorrell will conduct from the harpsichord — a practice that was standard during the Baroque but is a rare treat to experience today. Sorrell's expertise at the harpsichord will be on display especially in Bach's Brandenburg Concerto No. 5, which is performed on the program in Chapel Hill and Southern Pines. It is believed that Bach was inspired to write Brandenburg No. 5 when he received a new harpsichord from Berlin and set about experimenting with what it could do.
"The piece begins, seeming to be merely a concerto for violin and flute, with the harpsichord in its traditional subservient role," says Sorrell, explaining that the harpsichord then begins playing melodies in dialogue with the other instruments, followed by virtuosic scales, and ultimately an extended solo cadenza. "You can hear Bach experimenting with how to feature a harpsichord in the orchestra — something that had never been done before."
In the Concerto for Two Violins in D Minor (commonly known as the Bach Double), composed about the same time as the Brandenburg No. 5, Bach presents dramatic discourse and fiery duels between the two solo instruments. This piece has long been an audience favorite — as well as a favorite for violinists to perform. The North Carolina Symphony's own Principal Second Violin, Elizabeth Phelps, and Acting Principal Second Violin, Jacqueline Saed Wolborsky, will be featured. "The Bach Double has run deep in my musical blood ever since I heard this beautiful piece reverberating through the air at Suzuki violin camps at an extremely young age," says Wolborsky. "I have played it so many times with so many people, but I couldn't look forward more to playing it with Libby [Phelps], Jeannette Sorrell, and the North Carolina Symphony."
The Bach Double — like so many of Bach's works — shows his admiration for Vivaldi, particularly in its ritornellos, the lively sections played by the orchestra that return multiple times throughout. To bring that influence to the forefront, NCS will perform a Vivaldi work, "La Folia" ("Madness"). A folia is a dance form in triple-meter, evoking tension and seduction and growing faster and faster throughout. "Vivaldi's version [of the folia], which I believe is the finest of them all, was originally a trio sonata," says Sorrell. "I arranged it as a concerto grosso [for orchestra] so that all of us could join in the fray."
Although not composed in the Baroque period, Mozart's Ballet Music from Idomeneo integrates the composer's Classical language with the rhythms and nuances of Baroque dances. The opera tells the story of the King of Crete, who makes a vow that if the god of the sea, Neptune, brings him safely to shore, he will sacrifice the first person he meets there — and the events that unfold when that person turns out to be his son. This dramatic tale of the stormy seas contrasts with Handel's Water Music, which was composed to entertain King George I and his court when they took an excursion by barge.
A Meet the Artists talk takes place one hour prior to the Friday and Saturday performances. An Evening Overtures chamber music performance takes place one hour prior to the Sunday performance.
North Carolina Symphony
Bach's Double Violin Concerto
Friday, November 11 at 12pm; Meet the Artists talk at 11am
Meymandi Concert Hall
Duke Energy Center for the Performing Arts
Saturday, November 12 at 8pm; pre-concert Meet the Artists talk at 7pm
Robert E. Lee Auditorium
Pinecrest High School
Sunday, November 13 at 7:30 PM
Pre-concert Evening Overtures chamber music concert and discussion at 6:30pm (Gerrard Hall)
Handel: Selections from Water Music
Bach: Double Violin Concerto
Bach: Brandenburg Concerto No. 5*
Vivaldi: "La Folia" ("Madness")
Mozart: Ballet Music from Idomeneo
*Saturday and Sunday performances only
North Carolina Symphony
Jeannette Sorrell, conductor & harpsichord
Elizabeth Phelps, violin
Jacqueline Saed Wolborsky, violin
Anne Whaley Laney, flute
Tickets start at $18
Online: ncsymphony.org (TicketMaster fees apply)
By phone: 919.733.2750 ($4 handling fee applies)
NCS State Headquarters Offices (3700 Glenwood Ave., Raleigh)
Campbell House (482 E. Connecticut Ave., Southern Pines)
Country Bookshop (140 NW. Broad St., Southern Pines)
About the North Carolina Symphony
Founded in 1932, the North Carolina Symphony is a vital and honored component of North Carolina's cultural life. Its 175 concerts and events annually are greeted with enthusiasm by adults and schoolchildren in more than 90 North Carolina counties throughout the state—in communities large and small, and in concert halls, auditoriums, gymnasiums, restaurants, clubs, and outdoor settings. The Symphony's 66 full-time musicians perform under the artistic leadership of Music Director Grant Llewellyn and Associate Conductor David Glover.
NCS's state headquarters venue is the spectacular Meymandi Concert Hall at the Duke Energy Center for the Performing Arts in downtown Raleigh. The Symphony's service across the state includes series in Chapel Hill, Fayetteville, New Bern, Southern Pines, and Wilmington, as well as Summerfest concerts at the outdoor Koka Booth Amphitheatre in Cary. NCS brings some of the world's greatest artists to North Carolina, including Lang Lang, Stephen Hough, and Augustin Hadelich in the 2016/17 season.
Committed to engaging students across North Carolina, NCS conducts the most extensive education program of any U.S. orchestra. In alignment with the music curriculum set by the North Carolina Department of Public Instruction, the Symphony provides training and resources for teachers, sends small ensembles into classrooms, and presents full-orchestra Education Concerts experienced by more than 52,000 4th and 5th graders each year. At the middle and high school levels, students have opportunities to work directly with NCS artists and perform for NCS audiences.
NCS is dedicated to giving voice to new art, introducing North Carolina audiences to 20 works by living composers—including two co-commissions—in the past year. In its 83-year history, the Symphony has given 46 U.S. or world premieres. NCS will appear at the John F. Kennedy Center for the Performing Arts in Washington, D.C. in spring 2017, as one of four orchestras chosen for the inaugural year of SHIFT: A Festival of American Orchestras - an honor that recognizes the Symphony's innovative community partnerships and creative programming that inspires increased interest in new music. The Symphony will present works by composers with ties to North Carolina, including Sarah Kirkland Snider, Caroline Shaw, Mason Bates, and Robert Ward.
The first state-supported symphony in the country, NCS is an entity of the North Carolina Department of Natural and Cultural Resources.