The Williamsport Symphony Orchestra will debut its 45th season at 7:30 p.m. Oct. 11 with the "Hear It! Live It! Love it!" show in the Community Arts Center, 220 W. Fourth St. The evening will showcase the violin talents of the orchestra's concertmaster, Max Zorin. He will play as a soloist accompanied by the orchestra in the first half and then join the orchestra in the show's second part.
"I was approached to play the event," Zorin said. "This is my second year with the symphony - last year I did one solo playing John Williams' 'Schindler's List', which, to date, is the only big solo I've done with WSO. These performances will be nice because there will be a full orchestra behind me and that is rare, and it's really, really great. I'm excited to stretch out and play the wonderful pieces of music Gerardo (WSO conductor Gerardo Edelstein) has selected."
"Hear It! Live It! Love it!" will begin with Zorin as soloist leading the orchestra in performing "Short Ride In A Fast Machine" by contemporary American composer John Adams. The Pulitzer-prize winning Adams' piece is one of the most frequently requested and performed encores in American concert halls.
"I wanted to start with a very classy piece by an American composer, something that's 20th century and very accessible," WSO maestro Edelstein said. "He (Adams) writes in a way that actually I would imagine that younger audiences would be thrilled to listen-there's a lot of percussion and rhythm in the music. It's a very exciting, quick and passionate piece."
Moving from the modern to the traditional, the second song in the program is from famed 19th century French Romantic composer Camille Saint-Saens. Fittingly, this classic piece, "Introduction and Rondo Capriccioso," was written in 1863 for virtuoso violinist Pablo de Sarasate. In "Hear It! Live It! Love it!" it will be performed by the WSO, led by modern-day virtuoso Zorin.
"I started playing violin when I was 5," he said. "I was hearing it a lot because my dad (who was a one-time pupil of David Oistrakh) was playing in Israel, where we lived and he had extensive experience playing with orchestras in France. So, the violin was around me and I guess, as a kid, you try to emulate your parents. I remember even then I would hear something and then wonder how I would play it, what I would do differently if I were playing it."
The musical ardor and romantic sounds of the show's first half will reach its apex with closing number "Carmen Fantasy." This violin fantasy piece, written by de Sarasate, is based upon themes from Bizet's famed "Carmen" - one of the most passion-fueled, intense operas in history.
Edelstein also has created an interesting cultural twist, with this song ending the first half of "Hear It! Live It! Love it!"
"Max was born in Israel, raised in France, and I am Argentinean, so I have Spanish heritage - that makes an interesting combination of cultures," Edelstein said. "The original Carmen was written by a French composer Bizet what he is playing is an arrangement for violin-solo and orchestra. 'Carmen Fantasy' is by the Spanish composer Sarasata. Here you have the combination of French flavor and the Spanish flavor played by the quasi-French violinist and quasi-Spanish conductor. It will be a good combination I believe."
For Zorin, it provides the Julliard graduate an opportunity to perform a piece he's admired from afar but never touched a bow to string and play.
"I'm very excited to play 'Carmen Fantasy' and this will be my debut for it," Zorin said. "I've been wanting to play it for years but didn't have the time to commit. In anticipation of the show, I've been practicing six hours a day at least for that piece - it's a very challenging composition."
The second half has Zorin taking his seat with the orchestra, playing Sibelius Symphony No. 2. The early 20th century Finnish composer wrote one of the first great symphonies of the 20th century with Symphony No. 2. It was written between 1901 and 1902.
According to Edelstein, it's a composition of many moods and musical textures.
"This piece starts with a pastoral mood, then it gets a little darker, and more dramatic as it develops. In some ways, this reflects that era in Finland when they were under Russian occupation, so people were struggling and thinking about liberation. Then the piece ends with a very hopeful and exciting, happy mood. Sibelius' influences were from the great romantic composers - it's very melodic and lush with long lines and beautiful harmonies. It's just beautiful music - great and profound music."
Zorin and Edelstein reside in State College and are faculty members at Penn State University. As teachers, they share a love of educating people about the importance of classical music. People that work together develop a bond and this often can lead to opportunities beyond their 9-to-5 careers.
"Gerardo also is the director of orchestral studies at Penn State and I teach there as well," Zorin said. "I've known him for the past five years, since I joined the faculty at PSU. I was approached about joining the WSO by Gerardo and I wanted to give it a try. It's always nice to play in a place like Williamsport, where people are very receptive to music, to classical music."
This winter, Zorin will play China, where he's going with a chamber orchestra from Philadelphia for a 12-concert tour, but will be back in time for "Invitation to Dance" in February.
With "Hear It! Live It! Love it!" and the other shows on the 2011-12 program, Edelstein seeks to appeal to as many people as possible.
"Some people will come to hear the Broadway shows, others will come to Valentine's, and the Tango music is very popular these days as well," he said. "While other people would love to come and hear the full orchestra - like we are doing at the end of season - playing modern symphony. I think there's a little bit for everybody but still we keep a certain line of great and exciting music. I can't wait to start the season."
For additional information about the WSO, visit www.williamsportsymphony.org or call 326-2424.
For ticket information, call 800-432-9382.