Local musicians present music from the Heartland

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February 21st, 2012

Omaha, NE – One local chamber ensemble seeks to bring great classical music to Nebraskans while bringing new life to an iconic Midwestern painting.

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The Kronberg Ensemble, seen here performing Brahms B-flat Sextet in Lincoln, will perform Feb. 25 at the First Presbyterian Church in Omaha. (Photo courtesy Kronberg Ensemble)

The Omaha-based Kronberg Ensemble has strong ties to the Midwest, and the name says it all. It comes from a character in Willa Cather’s novel Song of the Lark about a young girl living on the frontier who wants to become a musical star. Like the author, the musicians of the Kronberg Ensemble have roots here in Nebraska.

“Most of the ensemble is based here in Omaha,” said cellist Sophia Potter. Most play with the Omaha Symphony in some capacity, she said, or work in the music industry out of Council Bluffs and Lincoln.

This Saturday, the group will draw on its Midwestern roots to present Music from the Homeland and the Heartland. The concert features nationalist music from various composers, including some very Norwegian music by Edvard Grieg. Representing the U.S. is the Suite from Grant Wood Country by Iowa composer Jerry Owen. The three movements are based on paintings by Grant Wood, including an American icon: American Gothic.

The longest work on the program is by a composer who spent time in the small hamlet of Spillville, Iowa – Antonin Dvorak. Audience members will hear his Sextet in A, a work that includes elements of Czech culture.

“The middle two movements are especially kind of nationalistic,” Potter said. The second movement is a Dumka, she said, which is part of Dvorak’s Dumky trio. “Some people translate it as like an epic story, or epic series of thoughts, there’s not really a good English equivalent.”

The third movement, Potter explained, is a kind of Czech dance, called a Furiant. “(It) sounds angry, but it’s not,” she said. “(It’s) kind of like a hat dance, or something where you’re really going wild.”

The Kronberg Ensemble will perform Music from the Homeland and the Heartland this Saturday, February 25 at 7 pm at the First Presbyterian Church in midtown Omaha.

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