Eroica Ensemble to play series including country and soul music mix

By Anthony Gilbert

On March 27th, Eroica Ensemble will present a program of three masterpieces of nineteenth-century music at First Congregational Church. Two of the pieces—Mendelssohn’s Overture to A Midsummer Night’s Dream and Smetana’s Vltava (Moldau)—are built on programmatic storylines explicitly calling for outdoorsy, pastoral music from the composers. So, one could say it’s going to be a “country” music show.

Yet, this is a program that also contains “soul” music. One finds rich, yearning, quasi-bluesy Slavic themes throughout Smetana’s music, and in the final work on the program, Brahms’ Symphony No. 2, the music rolls along with churning, indomitable rhythmic pulse and gorgeous folk-inspired minor-key themes. So, whether you like soul or country (or even a little classical music), we’ve got the show for you!

[singlepic id=139 w=320 h=240 mode=web20 float=left]The Overture to A Midsummer Night’s Dream was written in 1826 when the composer was still in his teens. The piece evokes the ethereal, magical world of Shakespeare’s moonlit woodland—the realm of Puck, Oberon, and Titania. In the music, one can follow the action and characters of the play, the songs and dances of the fairies, the chases of the lovers, Theseus’ hunting horns, Titania’s grace, the airiness of Puck.

Smetana’s Vltava (1874) is river music. It is also nationalistic music. This twelve-minute work portrays the river, called the Moldau by German-speaking Czechs such as Smetana, which flows through the Bohemian countryside and the city of Prague before joining the River Elbe. In using the course of the river as inspiration, Smetana finds a ready-made musical structure: in Vltava, the flowing river theme recurs between contrasting episodes, which depict lively scenes of Bohemian life and folklore along the riverside.

Based in Memphis, the Eroica Ensemble is a nonprofit organization, which brings classical music to the communities of West Tennessee. This year, Eroica is presenting ten free public orchestra concerts in Memphis and Jackson, Tennessee. The orchestra is led by conductor Michael Gilbert, a Memphis native and a veteran of the New York Philharmonic.

Audiences for these concerts have been growing steadily since the orchestra’s start in 2007. Performances this year at First Congregational Church have attracted as many as 500 concertgoers to Midtown’s Cooper-Young District for evening shows. Typically, the orchestra gives two weekend performances of each program: a Memphis concert on Saturday evenings and an out-of-town concert on Sunday afternoons. Eroica Ensemble also sponsors a conducting workshop during the summer at The University of Memphis.Visit www.eroicamemphis.org for more info.

Concert Details

7:30 pm Saturday, March 27th, 2010
First Congregational Church, 1000 South Cooper Street

3 pm Sunday, March 28th, 2010
Lambuth University, Womack Memorial Chapel
Jackson, Tennessee

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