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.”

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