Ludwig van Beethoven, the iconic and probably best-known classical music composer of all time, wrote a total of seven "concerti" for soloists and an orchestra, to go with his better known nine full-blown symphonies. Only one of the seven concerti featured a total of three soloists; a violin, a cello and a piano. It is this piece that the Manchester Music Festival will tackle Thursday, July 26, at its "Celestial Concert" as its summer concert series of "Music under the Stars" continues at the Arkell Pavilion at the Southern Vermont Arts Center.
"It's really a tour de force of all three instruments and it's classic Beethoven," said Ari Rudiakov, the artistic director of the music festival. "It's
His middle period, roughly considered to be from 1803 to 1814, was the point during which Beethoven began to contend with the onset of his deafness and his compositions dealt with themes of struggle and triumph over adversity. It was during this time that he composed six of his symphonies, three piano concertos as well as the triple concerto the music festival orchestra will perform.
The three featured soloists will be Joana Genova on violin, Benjamin Capps on cello and Julio Elizalde on piano.
But the Beethoven concerto will only be the opening half of the concert. The second part will be a performance of a composition by the other arguably best known figure
The festival's orchestra will be performing Mozart's Symphony No. 40 in G Minor, one of three symphonies he composed in rapid order towards the end of his life, Rudiakov said.
Unlike the traditional system prevailing at the time in 18-19th century aristocratic courts where composers like Mozart or Beethoven would be commissioned by a patron to create a new musical piece, Mozart's symphony No. 40 was created "from the heart," Rudiakov said.
"The symphony .... is delicately poised between pain and joy and it's very poignant and stirring; a piece of music that ultimately ends in triumph," he added.
The concert on July 26 marks the one time that a full scale orchestra of about 35 musicians will take to the stage of the Arkell Pavilion during its summer season, which began on July 5. The summer series offers a new concert each Thursday to go along with its Young Artists series, where emerging and already accomplished students of classical music give performances of classical chamber music Monday evenings at the Riley Center for the Arts at Burr and Burton Academy. This series of concerts runs from July 9 - Aug. 13 and start at 7 p.m.
Several of these Young Artists will be tapped to help fill out the orchestra, which will also be made up of some of the festivals' teaching faculty along with a few guest artists. Two members of the Imani Winds quintet that will perform July 19 will stay around to take part in the "Celestial" concert on the 26th, Rudiakov said. So will violinist Jessica Lee, who will also serve as concertmaster while Rudiakov conducts the full orchestra.
One of the challenges involved in conducting such an orchestra, which is pulled together essentially for this one performance, is to mold them together quickly and have everyone on the same page without the benefit of tons of rehearsal time. The orchestra members will essentially have four rehearsals before the actual performance on July 26, but working in their favor is the fact that both of these pieces are well-known and familiar to all the musicians, he said.
"Then I put my own interpretive stamp on it with the tempo, phrasing, and making sure everyone can read my gestures," he said. "My task as a conductor is to form the orchestra into an alloy - different metals pushed into the melting pot so it can have its own unique professional voice in about 72 hours."
The "Celestial" concert will also be one of the three that will allow - weather permitting - for the side doors of the Arkell to be opened up and lawn seating offered. It's a bargain for those that enjoy sitting out on the lawn to the right-hand side of the stage; the price of a ticket drops to $15 to compared to the usual $35 or $45 cost, and the sound quality is very good, Rudiakov said.
After this performance, lawn seating will be available only for the final summer concert scheduled for Aug. 16.
The "celestial" concert starts at 7:30 p.m., with doors opening at 7 p.m. Reserved seats inside the pavilion will be $45; lawn seats will be $15. For more information, call the Manchester Music Festival at 802-362-1956, or visit their Web site at www.mmfvt.org.