VCU Symphony to perform Romantic, Spanish classics

Ben Gadams
Contributing Writer

The VCU Symphony is currently preparing to delight audiences with a colorful, contrasting concert on Oct. 7.

The symphony will open its concert with a piece from the Romantic era: Robert Schumann’s “Symphony No. 1,” also known as “Spring.” It is performed in four movements that are “to die for,” orchestra conductor, Daniel Myssyk said. The piece offers dynamic and contrasting movements inspired by Schumann’s marriage to Clara Wieck. It was Schumann’s first major symphonic composition, completed in 1841.

The second piece in the concert, “Danzas Españolas,” was composed by Enrique Granados in the 1890s. The piece features a distinctly Spanish style in its rhythmic, light and often beautiful melodies.

The third and final piece in the symphony’s lineup is Emmanuel Chabrier’s resounding tribute to Spain, “España.” Though Chabrier was French, the piece was heavily inspired by Spanish culture. Chabrier’s bouncing orchestrations conjure images of sprawling Spanish landscapes and dances that give the illusion of having visited Spain.

“Chabrier was very enamored by Spanish culture,” Myssyk said. “It’s kind of a Spanish piece interpreted through the lens of a French guy.”

Myssyk said he believes that this semester’s symphony is one of the best ever. He said the student musicians are more involved than ever, and are working hard to put on an excellent performance in October.

“They’re very, very teachable and eager to learn,” Myssyk said. “The chemistry is clearly there.”

The VCU symphony plays two concerts per semester. Over the years they have played a variety of orchestral works, from Dvorak’s “New World Symphony” to Mozart’s “Requiem.” In addition, the symphony collaborates with the VCU Opera every year to put on a fully staged, fully orchestrated opera.

This fall’s concert promises to offer a dynamic range of music.

“It’s a program featuring two quite opposite styles,” Myssyk said.

The concert will span from a romantic, dark German symphony to two very different Spanish-style pieces.

“A program like that really showcases (the orchestra’s) abilities, talent, and commitment to the music,” Myssyk said.

Myssyk, founder and artistic director of the acclaimed ensemble, “Orchestre de Chambre Appassionate,” has been working with VCU’s music department since 2007. He said he is hoping for a great turnout at the upcoming concert.

“In the past we have put together a program featuring Mozart’s “Requiem,” I think two or three years ago, and we had a packed house,” Myssyk said. “This is what we are trying to do this year — bring as many people to share with them our love for that kind of music.”

Myssyk said he believes in spreading the wonders and joys of music, so he encourages students to come to the symphony concerts with an open mind.

“If you get to listen to it, you start opening up to it, and it’s going to speak to you in a variety of different ways,” Myssyk said. “From the Baroque era to the 21st century, the repertoire is so vast that there must be a period within that time frame that is going to speak to you.”

The symphony will hold its fall concert on Oct. 7th at 7:30 p.m. at the Sonia Vlahcevic Concert Hall in the W.E. Singleton Center. Tickets are $7 in advance and $10 the day of the concert. The event is free for students with a VCU ID.

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