Symphony Orchestra’s Chester Concert opens new season March 8

The RIC Symphony Orchestra, conducted by Edward Markward, will make its spring season debut with the 15th Annual Samuel and Esther Chester Performance Award Concert on Monday, March 8, at 8 p.m. in the Nazarian Center’s Sapinsley Hall.

Edward Markward
Guest soloists are violinist Charles Sherba and violist Consuelo Sherba of Aurea, a chamber-music group devoted to the melding of music and the spoken word.

Charles Sherba is a founding member of Aurea, a chamber music group devoted to the melding of music and the spoken word. He also serves as concertmaster of the Rhode Island Philharmonic Orchestra, the Simon Sinfonietta, and the Boston Festival Orchestra (which performs with the Chorus of Westerly).

Sherba is a teaching associate in the Music Department at Brown University and also teaches at the R.I. Philharmonic Music School. He has served as concertmaster of the West Virginia Symphony, the Atlanta Chamber Orchestra, and the Atlanta Ballet and performed with the Boston Symphony Orchestra, the Vermont Symphony and the Milwaukee Symphony, among many others.

Charles Sherba (Photo: Frank Mullin)
Consuelo Sherba is artistic director of Aurea and a frequent performer with chamber-music groups and orchestras throughout New England. She is principal violist of the Simon Sinfonietta and performs regularly with the R.I. Philharmonic and Vermont Symphonies. She also served as principal violist of the West Virginia Symphony, Atlanta Ballet Orchestra, and the Atlanta Chamber Orchestra and has performed extensively with the Atlanta and Milwaukee Symphonies.

Currently a teaching associate in the Music Department at Brown University, Consuelo Sherba also teaches for the R.I. Philharmonic Music School. She was a recipient of the 2008 Rhode Island Pell Award for achievement in the arts.

They will perform W.A. Mozart’s Sinfonia Concertante in E-flat Major.

Mozart composed his Sinfonia Concertante in E-flat major, K. 364 the summer after returning home from an ill-fated tour of Europe in search of better employment. His decision to pair solo violin with solo viola was curious, since, at the time, viola was considered a flawed instrument of inferior tone, played only by second-rate violinists.

Though the soloists in the first performance are unknown, many have speculated that Mozart himself played the solo viola part. The Sinfonia Concertante, K. 364, is considered one of Mozart’s greatest works.

Consuelo Sherba
(Photo: Peter Goldberg)
Also on the program are Antonin Dvořák’s Symphony No. 9 in E Minor (“From the New world,”) and Aaron Copland’s Inscape.

From December 1892 to the following May, Dvořák composed Symphony No. 9 in E Minor, which would be his last symphony. Subtitled "From the New World," the work received its first performance on December 16, 1893, with Anton Seidl conducting the New York Philharmonic.

The composition came about when in 1892, when Jeannette Thurber, wife of a wholesale grocery magnate, offered Dvořák the opportunity to head the National Conservatory of Music in New York. Thurber hoped that Dvořák would be able to communicate his ability to use native folk music as the basis for a “national” style of composition.

Dvořák studied collections of Native American folk music, and learned about spirituals and plantation songs from members of the faculty. He began to absorb these new influences into his own music, including the Symphony No. 9 in E Minor, which was heralded as a great masterpiece, though the debate immediately began as to its “American-ness.”

The symphony remains one of the most popular works in the entire literature.

The world premiere of Aaron Copland’s "Inscape" took place not in Carnegie Hall, but on the University of Michigan campus in Ann Arbor, on September 13, 1967, performed by the New York Philharmonic, with Leonard Bernstein conducting. The Japanese composer Toru Takemitsu called "Inscape" “a strong and an honest piece,” and a recording by the Juilliard Orchestra on New World Records has been much lauded.

Aaron Copland
Copland, who died in 1990, is one of the most highly regarded American classical composers of the 20th century. He remains an inspiration to young composers, and his works endure as mainstays of the American repertoire.

Admission to the concert is free, due to a grant from Samuel and Esther Chester.

In an effort to aid young artists from New England, the Chesters have endowed the Rhode Island College Foundation with $25,000 to establish the Samuel and Esther Chester Performance Award. The award underwrites performance expenses for an appearance with the Rhode Island College Symphony Orchestra by the winner of the Arthur W. Foote Prize as adjudicated by the Harvard Musical Association or partially underwrites the expenses of an artist of international stature.