Omaha Symphony’s Season Comes to a Close with ‘Scheherazade’
June 3rd, 2016
Omaha, NE — The last show of the Omaha Symphony’s season will weave spellbinding tales of adventure.
Starting Friday, June 3rd, the Omaha Symphony will close out it’s 2015-16 season with Rimsky-Korsakov’s dazzling showcase for violin and orchestra, Scheherazade. Conducted by Music Director Thomas Wilkins, the final MasterWorks concert of the season will feature Susanna Perry Gilmore in the title role as the gifted storyteller.
As the story goes, the Sultan is convinced that all women are false and incapable of fidelity. He swears an oath to put to death each of his wives after their first night. But during his evening with Scheherazade, the clever storyteller begins to tell him a wondrous tale that arouses his interest, stopping just before dawn. In order to hear the end, the sultan spares her life until the next night. Driven by curiosity to hear Scheherazade’s wondrous stories, the sultan postpones her execution for 1,001 nights until he finally abandons his wicked plan. Concertmaster Susanna Perry Gilmore described the unique way Rimsky-Korsakov created her character.
“The way he wrote it, there’s always a possibility of it continuing,” Gilmore said. “So that presents some wonderful creative challenges for the player because, not only does he write the same melody many, many times with slight variations, for me the creative challenge is how to not play it the same every time. How to put enough color and enchantment in these arpeggios to captivate the listener and create this character of a storyteller who is telling a story to keep herself alive.”
Gilmore described the piece as a tone poem, one that features a progamatic element as opposed to an abstract structure of music. This gives the composer more creative freedom. Rimsky-Korsakov uses this freedom to evoke the music of the Orient where he became fascinated with it after a trip in the late 1870s across the Black Sea where he finally heard Arabian and gypsy music for the first time. This way of painting a picture with sounds is something Gilmore described as a phenomenon only the symphony could create.
“The sounds trigger our imagination and we can go wherever we want,” she said. “Two people sitting next to each other in the audience might have two completely different images in their mind and it’s all wonderful and it’s all correct.”
Along with Scheherazade, the symphony will also perform Samuel Barber’s Souvenirs, a ballet suite for orchestra, and Richard Strauss’ Der Rosenkavalier Suite. Gilmore described the unique challenges each piece presents.
“The Barber has some interesting ones involving harmonics that I’ve never run across before way high up on the G string. It’s fascinating to me,” she said. “Der Rosenkavalier also has some beautiful moments for the concertmaster to play solo. Scheherazade really stands out in the repertoire for concertmasters. I would put it next to Strauss’ tone poem Ein Heldenleben where the concertmaster embodies this character portrait of his wife. It feels like 30 minutes of solo playing but it’s probably more like five. It goes on for what feels like a very long time. With Scheherazade, every time she has something to say in this piece, she’s the only one [speaking]. It’s only the violin filling the sound of the concert hall.”
Gilmore said that even if you’ve heard these compositions before, nothing can compare to hearing the notes come alive right in front of you.
“I would come see this because nothing can replicate the sound of an 80-piece orchestra painting these musical pictures,” she said. “Every piece is going to have this huge cast of characters on the stage and you can listen to it on YouTube but it’ll sound exactly the same every time. When you come to hear us, it’s only going to sound how it sounds in time while you are sitting there. There next time it’s going to be completely different. I don’t think anything replaces live art making.”
The Omaha Symphony’s performance of Scheherazade will be Friday, June 3rd, and Saturday, June 4th, inside the Holland Performing Arts Center. For more information on the event, visit www.OmahaSymphony.org.
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