The Santa Monica Symphony Orchestra, under the direction of Maestro Guido Lamell, presents “Romance and Russia” a concert of great romantic Russian music this Sunday, March 9 at 7 pm in Barnum Hall, on the campus of Santa Monica High School.
The Orchestra continues its tradition of pre-concert talks with a lecture by noted musicologist, Russell Steinberg, who kicks off the evening with an entertaining discourse of insights into the evening’s program.
Dr. Steinberg includes piano performance and audio samples in his talk, beginning in Barnum Hall at 6 pm.
The concert opens with Alexander Borodin’s Polovtsian Dances. The exciting rhythms and soaring melodies of the dances evoke exotic images of early nomadic tribes thundering across the Russian Steppes. The breathtakingly beautiful romantic theme from the Polovtsian Dances is known to many as “Stranger in Paradise,” made popular by its use in the 1953 Broadway musical, Kismet.
The Symphony’s brilliant young concertmistress, Heidi Hatch is featured in the next piece on the program, Alexander Glazunov’s Violin Concerto in A minor.
“This great work showcases beautifully Heidi’s stunning technique and enchanting tone,” said Maestro Lamell. “Heidi has an intense, rich vibrato which is perfect for the passionate melodies of the Glazunov Violin Concerto.”
The program concludes with perhaps the most romantic of all symphonies, Rachmaninoff’s Symphony No. 2.
“It’s a monumental work that’s got everything… unbridled passion, sweeping melodies, and pulse-quickening drama,” Lamell said. “The towering romantic themes are interspersed with intricate but thrilling passage work, and then it sweeps you away with an even more romantic melody. It never lets up!”
Lamell said the Orchestra was thrilled that the community was connecting with them and is excited about their concerts.
“Recently, we opened one of our rehearsals to elementary school kids and their families as part of our community outreach programs,” he said. “It was wonderful to have about 50 kids sitting right next to musicians of their choice while we played the Borodin Dances. The look of amazement on their faces was priceless.”
The Symphony’s audience has shown a steady increase with almost 200 people being turned away from the annual Martin Luther King Day concert at the SGI auditorium in January.
Lamell said Barnum Hall, the Symphony’s home, seated almost 300 more than the SGI Auditorium, which should provide ample room for all audience members, but even so, concertgoers are encouraged to come early for good seats.
As with all Santa Monica Symphony concerts, admission is free.
Parking is available at the Santa Monica Civic Auditorium lot or in the colorful Civic Center Parking Structure at 4th Street and Olympic Boulevard.
The Symphony presents its final concert of the 2013-2014 season over Memorial Day weekend, Saturday, May 24.
The concert features Hector Berlioz’ Symphonie Fantastique in addition to the Nuevo Tango of Astor Piazzolla.
As an introduction, the Symphony is sponsoring free tango lessons leading up to the concert.
“Tango in the Park,” a series of three free lessons will be offered at Virginia Avenue Park Monday nights at 6 pm beginning Monday, May 5. Teaching the tango will be the accomplished Ballroom Madness artistic director, Daniel Ponickly.
For more information, call 310.395.6330 or visit www.smsymphony.org.