The Pasadena Community Orchestra wants to take you on a musical world tour as you attend its upcoming concert at the First Church of the Nazarene on Friday, March 18, at 8 p.m. Cellist Catherine Biagini will be part of the event, and the orchestra will be led by Music Director Bethany Pflueger.
Catherine Biagini began studying the cello at age nine with Raymond Davis, principal of Seattle Symphony. She has toured the United States, Italy, and China with various orchestras and has worked with luminaries as Yo-Yo Ma, Itzhak Perlman, Pinchas Zukerman, and Mstislav Rostropovich. She is currently the principal cellist with Asia American Symphony, Santa Cecilia Orchestra, and Burbank Philharmonic, and is also a member of Santa Barbara Chamber Orchestra.
The evening should feel as a world tour because the works that will be performed will help your imagination “fly away” to places like Paris, the exotic East, Armenia, and England. The orchestra is preparing the following works for your musical voyage:
Saint-Saens’ “Cello Concerto No. 1” has enchanted audiences since its Parisian premiere in 1873. From the very opening solo, you will be swept up in the current of the cello’s majestic power. Saint-Saens highlights the cello’s virtuosity and capacity for great drama, as well as for tender beauty. This concerto towers as a great example of French music, and as a signature showcase for the cello.
Written just a decade after the Saint-Saens, Debussy’s “Cortege et Air de Danse” is in a completely different style. Although Debussy was only 21 when he wrote the “Cortege,” it displays much of the dreamy, Impressionist sound that became his hallmark. The piece also has a flavor of “the exotic East,” depicting a procession of revelers who precede the entrance of “the prodigal son” (the operetta from which the “Cortege” comes).
Early 20th-century composer Charles Tomlinson Griffes’ “The Pleasure Dome of Kubla Khan” shares Debussy’s Impressionist style, and even more strongly evokes the exotic East. Inspired by references in Samuel Coleridge’s poem, Griffes’ music is highly colorful and free in form, conjuring up visions of a sacred river and the brilliant, sunlit pleasure dome in which revelers dance.
A Kurdish folk dance is the basis for Khatchaturian’s “Sabre Dance,” which, like most works by this ardent Armenian nationalist, reflects Armenian folk themes. Khatchaturian’s first popular hit, the music keeps both audience and dancers breathless with its quick and steady pulse, the excitement of unexpected accents, colorful orchestral sounds, and high, driving melodies.
Mendelssohn’s “Midsummer Night’s Dream” has always been an audience favorite, and it’s one of his greatest hits. From the “once upon a time” beginning of four distinctive woodwind chords, Mendelssohn will transport you to the magic-filled woods of Shakespeare’s play. The scurrying music that follows creates an indelible image of the fairy world that no one, including Mendelssohn himself, has ever surpassed.
This concert will be offered free of charge (donations will be accepted at the door). The First Church of the Nazarene is located at 3700 E. Sierra Madre Blvd (one block west of Michillinda Ave). Parking will be free. Immediately following the concert, you will have the opportunity to meet the soloist, Music Director and the other musicians at a reception. For more information visit pcomusic.org.
Photo: Cellist Catherine Biagini / instrumentalcasting.com
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