Friday, May 24, 2013

HSO Wraps Up Season with Rites of Spring

Carolyn Kuan conducts the HSO.
Led by HSO music director Carolyn Kuan, the Hartford Symphony Orchestra will close the 2012-2013 Season performing Stravinsky’s Rite of Spring 100 years after its explosively controversial premiere at Unexpected Sounds on Thursday, May 30 – Sunday, June 2, 2013 at the Bushnell Center for the Performing Arts.

Scandal and controversy surrounded the short-lived premiere production of the Rite of Spring. The story, set in ancient Russia, involves the sacrifice of a young girl who dances herself to death to ensure the return of spring. At its premiere in Paris on May 29, 1913, Stravinsky's extraordinary, complex, and strikingly modern music combined with Vaslav Nijinsky's unorthodox choreography, with toes turned in instead of out and arms and heads oddly bent, caused the audience to erupt in fury. Shouts, catcalls, whistles, even fisticuffs grew so menacing that often the orchestra could not be heard. The producer flashed the house lights on and off in a vain attempt to restore order; Nijinsky, when he was not on stage, pounded wildly on the scenery with his fists to keep the dancers together. No one could deny, however, the ferocious, overwhelming power of the music, and audiences could not help but be swept away by its awesome and wonderful maelstrom of exquisitely executed sound.

The HSO will honor this groundbreaking premiere 100 years later with four full performances of Rite of Spring, featuring more than 100 musicians onstage and a soloist from The Hartt School dancing the female sacrifice. As with the premiere in 1913, the first half of the program will feature excerpts from a traditional ballet, Tchaikovsky’s Swan Lake¸ and will include performances by dancers from The Nutmeg Conservatory for the Arts.

The performances will open with Huang Ruo’s Concerto for Sheng, a Chinese mouth organ, as performed by international Sheng virtuoso Wu Wei. This concerto, as Rite of Spring did 100 years ago, highlights the unusual and unexpected sounds an orchestra can generate, and features unusual instruments- including conch shells!

The sets and costumes from the original production were designed and created by the mystical painter and professional ethnographer Nikolai Roerich. Three of the original costumes and a sketch by Roerich will be on display at the Wadsworth Atheneum Museum of Art in Hartford starting from May 29-June 23. Patrons who visit the museum from May 29-June 2 may present their admission receipt in person at HSO Ticket Services on May 29- 31 or at The Bushnell Box Office from May 29-June 2 to receive $5 off an adult ticket (does not apply to previously purchased tickets). Additionally, HSO audiences will be able to present their Rite of Spring performance ticket stub at the Wadsworth Atheneum from May 31-June 23 to receive $5 off museum admission. For more information about the Wadsworth Atheneum, please visit www.thewadsworth.org.

Sheng soloist Wu Wei, born 1970 in China, is a Distinguished Professor of the Shanghai Music Conservatory. In addition to many prestigious national and international competitions for traditional Chinese music, he won the “Musica Vitale Competition Germany” in 1996 and 2002, and the “Global Root” German world music prize in 2004. In 2011, he won the Herald Angels Award by Edinburgh International Festival. He has appeared as a soloist with many leading orchestras and ensembles, including the Berliner Philharmonic Orchestra, Los Angeles Philharmonic Orchestra under Gustavo Dudamel, Radio France Philharmonic Orchestra, Seoul Philharmonic Orchestra, BBC Symphony Orchestra, Tokyo Symphony Orchestra, and Helsinki Philharmonic Orchestra, amongst many others.

Calendar Listing:
HSO MASTERWORKS SERIES:
UNEXPECTED SOUNDS: Stravinsky’s Rite of Spring
Featuring Carolyn Kuan, conductor; Wu Wei, sheng; Dancers from the Nutmeg Conservatory for the Arts and The Hartt School Dance Division
Thursday, May 30, 2013 │ 7:30 p.m.
Friday, May 31, 2013 │ 8:00 p.m.
Saturday, June 1, 2013 │ 8:00 p.m.
Sunday, June 2, 2013 │ 3:00 p.m.
Belding Theater │ The Bushnell Center for the Performing Arts
Program: Igor Stravinsky: Le Sacre du Printemps (The Rite of Spring); Piotr Ilyich Tchaikovsky: Selections from Swan Lake; Huang Ruo: “The Color Yellow” Concerto for Sheng and Chamber Orchestra
Ticket Information: Tickets to this concert range in price from $35.50-$70.50. Student tickets are $10. On Saturday, June 1, $25 tickets are available for patrons age 40 and under. To purchase tickets or for more information, please contact HSO ticket services at (860) 244-2999 or visit www.hartfordsymphony.org.

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Lauren Yarger with playwright Alfred Uhry at the Mark Twain House. Photo: Jacques Lamarre)

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