From Music Director Daniel Meyer

October 15, 2016

Opening night with the Erie Philharmonic features some of the most dramatic works written for orchestra by Russian composers.  We start with Igor Stravinsky’s Petrushka, originally a ballet commissioned by Diaghilev and danced by the Ballet Russes in Paris, 1911.  The music brings a puppet to life during a raucous Shrovetide Fair.  He of course falls for the beautiful Ballerina, but brutal circumstances keep Petrushka from realizing his romantic fantasies.  The music throughout is poignant, tender, violent, and tragic.  We then feature our own Concertmaster, Ken Johnston, as violin soloist.  The glowing Glazunov Violin Concerto will be a perfect vehicle for Ken’s innate musicality and mastery of the instrument.  We bring the evening to a close with favorite selections from Tchaikovsky’s beloved ballet Swan Lake.   With music so vivid in its ability to paint a scene, the music from Swan Lake is just as stirring and colorful in a concert presentation as it can be in the ballet pit. 

November 12, 2016

In November, we investigate composer rivalries, real and imagined.  Peter Shaffer’s play Amadeus created a fascinating (yet spurious?) look into the jealousies of a capable artist (Salieri) when he is forced to compete with an undisputed genius (Mozart.)  While today Mozart is by far the more highly-regarded figure, it is sometimes fun to compare and contrast the two, as we do when we pit Salieri’s charming Sinfonia Veneziana against Mozart’s Concerto for Flute in G Major. 

Guest soloist Demarre McGill currently serves as principal flute of the Dallas Symphony, and he will make his Erie Philharmonic debut.  We continue with Rossini vs. Beethoven.  Historians like to pit the so-called misanthropic, misunderstood deaf genius Beethoven against the life-loving operatic genius Rossini.  We will investigate this rivalry when we perform Rossini’s William Tell Overture and launch our four-season Meet Beethoven Project with his brilliant and charming Symphony No. 8.

January 21, 2017

In January, we look into the music of composers who are strongly linked to the landscapes around them.  Czech composer Smetana wrote an entire set of tone poems inspired by his countryside in Má Vlast.  We begin with arguably the most famous of those tone poems, The Moldau.  With its rollicking undercurrent and sonic splashes, it beautifully depicts how the famous river winds its way through the Bohemian Forest. 

Soyeon Kate Lee then makes her Philharmonic debut with Bartók’s evocative and nature-inspired Piano Concerto No. 3.  From its inclusion of birdsong to the earthiness of its folkdance rhythms, Bartók’s Third is the one most connected to the outdoors.  The evening culminates with a performance of Sibelius’ 2nd Symphony.  A sweeping musical statement in four movements, Sibelius’ symphony is motivated by an obvious affinity to nature and an emotional fervor that is inspired by his deeply-rooted pride of Finland. 

March 11, 2017

In March, world-renowned pianist Emanuel Ax makes his Erie Philharmonic debut in a very special evening of two composer-titans, Beethoven and Mahler.  As a pianist of the highest order in virtuosity and musicianship, Emanuel Ax has few peers, and he is considered one of the most important interpreters of Beethoven in our generation.  He will take-on Concerto No. 5, the ‘Emperor,’ in his contribution to our Meet Beethoven Project and donate a week of his time to the Erie community in special appearances and performances.  That same evening we will perform Gustav Mahler’s Symphony No. 4, a beautiful, imaginative journey inspired by nature and firmly-planted in song.  The symphony’s final movement features a touching appearance of soprano Sari Gruber, singing a description of heaven from a child’s perspective.

April 8, 2017

Our 16-17 season ends in April with sonic splendor.  We begin with a transcription of Bach’s Fantasia and Fugue in c minor as only the brilliant English composer Edward Elgar could re-create.  The original Fantasia was written for the organ; Elgar’s orchestration gives this brilliant work new life, in full symphonic depth and color.  We then perform Vaughan Williams’ searing Dona Nobis Pacem, featuring the voices of the Erie Philharmonic Chorus and two soloists from the Pittsburgh Opera.  With its inventive pairing of liturgical Latin texts with World War I poetry by Walt Whitman, this passionate music reveals the drama, sorrow, and emotional scars that war can leave on our psyches.  To complete the concert and our symphonic season, we perform Saint-Saëns’ brilliant Symphony No. 3 ‘Organ.’  In this symphony, Saint-Saëns discreetly weaves the color of the organ into the fabric of the work and then ‘pulls out all the stops’ in a finale that will simply leave the Warner Theatre shaking.  It is a sonic display that you simply have to experience live, and we are bringing it to you in our season of captivating music with the Erie Philharmonic.