Concert Review: Artful Representation Concludes the Symphony Tacoma Season

Concert Review: Artful Representation Concludes the Symphony Tacoma Season

Concert Review: Artful Representation Concludes the Symphony Tacoma Season

Sarah Ioannides | Symphony Tacoma Music Director | Female Conductor and Composer

Symphony Tacoma finished the 2022-23 season with a diverse and provoking program on Saturday, May 13 – themed Blues, Tangos and Rhapsodies. Saturday’s performance featured works by Florence Price, Claudio Constantini, and George Gershwin. The blending of genres, styles, and cultures was a celebration to conclude this concert season.

Sarah Ioannides led the orchestra with craft, and Symphony Tacoma sounded fantastic in Price’s rich scoring. Ethiopia’s Shadow… had vibrant colors, exciting string tremolos, artful solos. The work showcased the entire orchestra. Solos by concertmaster Svend Rønning and principal cellist Alistair MacRae filled the Pantages Theater with singing musicianship and warm vibrato. The audience enthusiasm for Price’s music was obvious in the applause and cheers from the audience. It is wonderful to see how concert culture, artistic significance, and social justice can combine in a performance.

The centerpiece of Saturday’s concert was the Concerto for Bandoneon and Orchestra by Claudio Constantini. Constantini was also the soloist in the concerto. Likely not an everyday instrument for most Tacomans, the bandoneon is a push-button accordion. The bandoneonist raises a leg on a platform, balances the middle of the instrument on the raised thigh, and uses both arms to expand and contract the bellows. All of this, while the player uses his fingers to press buttons that produce pitches, melodies, and chords. The bandoneon is a wonderful sight and incredible sound! The expressiveness and volume control Constantini plays with the bandoneon are virtuosic.

After intermission, Constantini returned as piano soloist for a concert favorite, Gershwin’s Rhapsody in BlueRhapsody… obviously appealed to the audience, when some audience whoops and cheers followed Craig Rine’s famous opening clarinet scoops. The interplay between the piano solos and orchestra interludes were expertly timed under Ioannides’ leadership. The comfort of the jazz medium was obvious in Constantini’s playing.

Concert Review: Inviting Us Together with arx duo and Symphony Tacoma, from Bartok to Beethoven to DiBerardino

Concert Review: Inviting Us Together with arx duo and Symphony Tacoma, from Bartok to Beethoven to DiBerardino

Concert Review: Inviting Us Together with Arx Duo and Symphony Tacoma, from Bartok to Beethoven to DiBerardino

Sarah Ioannides | Symphony Tacoma Music Director | Female Conductor and Composer

What makes a thing a whole, a unity? Thoughts of how parts separate and come together, how contrasts remain connected by their differences and enable us to return to the familiar, were prominent during Saturday evening’s concert (Saturday, Apr 22, 2023) at the Pantages Theater, titled Dancing Mallets & Pulsing Percussion. Symphony Tacoma, led by conductor Sarah Ioannides, gave a driving and joyful performance of works old and new, including the world premiere of Nick DiBerardino’s Double Percussion Concerto for which they were joined by the night’s featured soloists, Garrett Arney and Mari Yoshinaga of Arx Duo.

As though in answer to an unspoken question, the full weight of the orchestra opened from an explosive point, joined by Garrett Arney and Mari Yoshinaga on a pair of marimbas. Immediately the parts diverged, as contrasting rhythms and themes scattered across the hall. …In a conversation the day before, arx duo discussed the Double Percussion Concerto, “When someone sees a concerto for percussion, they expect to hear something loud, with virtuosic and exposed percussion parts, but [the Double Percussion Concerto] is actually very delicate, detailed, and in harmony with the ensemble . . . It’s not just a cool percussion piece, it’s a cool piece with a feature of percussion.” The audience on Saturday night responded with an immediate and enthusiastic reaction, as one concert-goer exclaimed afterwards, “It blew my mind!”

Concert Preview: Bandoneon, Piano, Composing, Oh My!

Concert Preview: Bandoneon, Piano, Composing, Oh My!

Concert Preview: Bandoneon, Piano, Composing, Oh My!

Zuill Bailey

Symphony Tacoma is proud to present Classics VI: Blues, Tangos, & Rhapsodies. Multi-Instrumentalist and Composer Claudio Constantini will share his unique style that fuses classical, contemporary and Latin music genres in his performance of two pieces—his own tango-inspired Concerto for Bandoneon and Gershwin’s gem of symphonic jazz, Rhapsody in Blue.

Gershwin’s Rhapsody in Blue is a piece that not only defines Gershwin; for many, it also defines America. The original piece, Rhapsody, was not ready in time for its scheduled premiere, resulting in Gershwin improvising, with the conductor only knowing when to cue the orchestra. Piano solos alternate with orchestral interludes, the Rhapsody is beloved by audiences all over the world.

Florence Price was one of the most versatile and accomplished American musicians of her generation. She was the first female African American classical composer to gain national fame. Price’s Ethiopia’s Shadow in America traces the American experience of enslaved Africans. The first movement depicts their arrival, the second portrays the development of faith, and the third shows adaptation into modern society. The work firmly places Price alongside other figures associated with the Harlem Renaissance, including William Grant Still, Langston Hughes and Duke Ellington.

Rounding out the evening will be Gershwin’s An American in Paris. Though reviews were mixed when originally premiered, time has proven An American in Paris to be a staple of the orchestral repertoire. “The opening gay section is followed by a rich blues with a strong rhythmic undercurrent,” Gershwin says. “This blues rises to a climax, followed by a coda in which the spirit of the music return to the vivacity and bubbly exuberance of the opening part…. at the conclusion, the street noises and French atmosphere are triumphant.”

 
Concert Preview: Symphony Tacoma present World Premiere, Beethoven’s Symphony No. 7 in Classics V

Concert Preview: Symphony Tacoma present World Premiere, Beethoven’s Symphony No. 7 in Classics V

Concert Preview: Symphony Tacoma present World Premiere, Beethoven’s Symphony No. 7 in Classics V

Zuill Bailey

Symphony Tacoma is proud to present Classics V: Dancing Mallets & Pulsing Percussion. arx duo will perform, including the world premiere of Nick DiBernardino’s Double Percussion Concerto, on Saturday, April 22, 2023 at 7:30 PM in the Pantages Theater.

Percussionists Garrett Arney and Mari Yoshinaga make arx duo. Working closely with a large variety of composers and ensembles, arx duo is a 501(c)3 not-for-profit organization that expands the percussion repertoire by commissioning, performing and workshop pieces from artists all over the world. arx duo has served as educators at many universities including Peabody Conservatory, Michigan State University, and currently serve as faculty for the Curtis Institute of Music Young Artists Summer Program

Beginning the program will be Bartók’s Romanian Folk Dances. Originally composed for solo piano in 1915, Bartók developed an interest in his native folk music in his early 20s, noting, “I consider it my goal in life to continue my study of Romanian folk music, at least in Transylvania, and carry it to its end …”. Bartok traveled to Transylvania numerous times, where he recorded and transcribed the music of the local population. These folk tunes provided the tunes, rhythms and harmonies that inspired his own compositions.

Beethoven’s renowned Symphony No. 7 will close out the program, one of his best works according to Beethoven himself. The piece’s four movements leave a poetic impression on listeners, favoring so well it had to be repeated in concert four days later. Each movement varies- from an extensive, slow introduction, leading you into the most graceful, haunting ten minutes of music ever composed. This is followed by a frenzied scherzo movement, and finishing with incredibly high energy. While critics wondered if Beethoven was intoxicated at the time of the composition, French writer and Beethoven’s biographer, Romain Rolland, responded, “It was indeed the work of an intoxicated man, but one intoxicated with poetry and genius.”

Concert Review: Reconciliation 140 Years in the Making

Concert Review: Reconciliation 140 Years in the Making

Concert Review: Reconciliation 140 Years in the Making

Sarah Ioannides | Symphony Tacoma Music Director | Female Conductor and Composer

Rosemary Ponnekanti for South Sound Magazine

Saturday night Symphony Tacoma continued their 76th season with their third Classics concert, Reconciliation, and premiered a suite of music from Tacoma Method, a new opera from local composer Gregory Youtz and Chinese poet and librettist Zhang Er.

Symphony Tacoma executed Youtz’s new score beautifully. Tacoma Method’s instrumentation blended the sounds of Eurocentric and Chinese instruments, expressing musically the mix of Tacoma’s cultures. The Symphony Tacoma Voices also put up an outstanding performance of this new work, no doubt in thanks to Dr. Geoffrey Boers’ hard work in preparation and rehearsal. However, the true star of the evening was Hai-Ting Chinn. A commanding stage presence, her powerful conveyance of emotion forced those in attendance to feel the plight of the displaced Chinese before they were loaded on train cars at gunpoint and railroaded away from their home forever, in what would become known as the Tacoma Method.

Once we returned from intermission, we were treated to one of the greats of the Romantic era. Ever a stalwart champion of modern music (such as Tacoma Method), Maestra Sarah Ioannides once again demonstrated her mastery of the classics with her world-class showing of Brahms’ Fourth Symphony. Ioannides deftly led the orchestra as the melody of the first movement interweaved though strings, woodwinds, and horns, building to one of the great climaxes of the nineteenth century. The entire symphony was a brilliant lecture on ensemble playing, and the orchestra was a pleasure to listen to the whole evening.

Concert Review:  ‘Tacoma Method’ Packs The Pantages

Concert Review: ‘Tacoma Method’ Packs The Pantages

Concert Review: Reconciliation 140 Years in the Making

Sarah Ioannides | Symphony Tacoma Music Director | Female Conductor and Composer

Saturday night Symphony Tacoma continued their 76th season with their third Classics concert, Reconciliation, and premiered a suite of music from Tacoma Method, a new opera from local composer Gregory Youtz and Chinese poet and librettist Zhang Er.

Symphony Tacoma executed Youtz’s new score beautifully. Tacoma Method’s instrumentation blended the sounds of Eurocentric and Chinese instruments, expressing musically the mix of Tacoma’s cultures. The Symphony Tacoma Voices also put up an outstanding performance of this new work, no doubt in thanks to Dr. Geoffrey Boers’ hard work in preparation and rehearsal. However, the true star of the evening was Hai-Ting Chinn. A commanding stage presence, her powerful conveyance of emotion forced those in attendance to feel the plight of the displaced Chinese before they were loaded on train cars at gunpoint and railroaded away from their home forever, in what would become known as the Tacoma Method.

Once we returned from intermission, we were treated to one of the greats of the Romantic era. Ever a stalwart champion of modern music (such as Tacoma Method), Maestra Sarah Ioannides once again demonstrated her mastery of the classics with her world-class showing of Brahms’ Fourth Symphony. Ioannides deftly led the orchestra as the melody of the first movement interweaved though strings, woodwinds, and horns, building to one of the great climaxes of the nineteenth century. The entire symphony was a brilliant lecture on ensemble playing, and the orchestra was a pleasure to listen to the whole evening.