Bleeding Pines and a Nature-Filled Fantasia

By Rosemary Ponnekanti

Symphony Tacoma’s Classics IV concert at the Pantages Theater Saturday night, was about nature: its shining beauty, and how we have the power to destroy it or save it. And the message’s composers, not coincidentally, were both called Ludwig.

The night began with Pallavi Mahidhara sailing her way through Ludwig van Beethoven’s Piano Concerto no. 4 like a stately galleon over a calm ocean. (…) Helming the orchestra, Sarah Ioannides, also known for superb control, echoed Mahidhara’s tone in each interjection.

World-premiered at this concert, “The Bleeding Pines” is a 10-minute story about what happens when humans nearly destroy a forest, and the power of one person to save it. It’s based on a poem by North Carolina poet Ray Owen, who tells how 90 million acres of an ancient longleaf pine forest was hacked and cut for sap to make turpentine, dwindling to just 3,000 acres before being saved in the early 1900s by conservationist Helen Boyd Dull. Symphony Tacoma Voices called out the forest’s story with passion, confidence and clarity. “The Bleeding Pines” is altogether a powerful, painterly piece, starkly conveying both the destruction and the hope of salvation that humans hold over nature, and themselves.

A final encore – Mahidhara accompanying Symphony Tacoma Voices in the sonorous harmonies of the Ukrainian national anthem, with everyone standing in honor – seemed to confirm that hope against the precariousness of our current world.

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