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February 7, 2013

MSO plays Tchaikovsky Saturday night

MERIDIAN —     The Meridian Symphony Orchestra and regional music lovers are in high spirits following last week's announcement of the hiring of Peter Rubardt as new music director of the Orchestra.

    Until June 1, he will serve in the capacity of music conductor designate. Rubardt will also continue in his position as music director of the Pensacola Symphony.  

    The Meridian Symphony Orchestra will be playing its fourth concert of the season this Saturday night, Feb. 9, at the MSU Riley Center at 7 p.m. with the offerings of Dvorak, Bruch, and Tchaikovsky, all Romantic Period composers. Dvorak was born in Bohemia, 1841; Bruch in Germany,1838; Tchaikovsky in Russia,1840.

    As is the orchestra’s custom, the “Star Spangled Banner” opens the program, followed by the scintillating Dvorak “Carnival Overture,” the meditative “Kol Nidrei” by Max Bruch, and  rounding out events is the beloved and thrilling Tchaikovsky “Symphony No.4.”

    Guest conductor for this concert is Jeffery Meyer, current director of orchestras at Ithaca College School of Music, New York. Special guest artist will be MSO's renowned principal cellist, Alexander “Sasha” Russakovsky, who will be performing the “Kol Nidrei.”

    Antonin Dvorak’s music has been at the forefront of MSO’s concerts throughout the past year, having been treated to his “Festival March” and by his Czechoslovakian inspired “Symphony No. 8,” and his American influenced “Symphony No. 9.” Dvorak’s “Carnival Overture,” is wildly popular world-wide. It is something audience members will recognize even if they don’t know it by name.

    By Dvorak’s own description of this music: The lonely wanderer reaches the city at nightfall, finding a carnival in full swing. There is a clanging of instruments, shouts of joy, hilarious songs and dances. The music opens at a frenetic pace, then an interlude of the wanderer’s calmer perspective, climaxing with restored flair and energy.

    The “Kol Nidrei,” composed by Max Bruch, was a gift to the Jewish community of Liverpool, which had been so supportive of the city’s Phiharmonic Society. Bruch, a German, was resident conductor there for three years. The chant on which this work is based is the very solemn one which initiates the service on the eve of Yom Kippur — the Day of Atonement, a “fast day” and the highest of all Jewish Holy Days. “Kol Nidrei” means “All Vows”: the text is a renunciation of false allegiance sworn under duress. The chant displays the essence of a lament; Bruch adds a second, more radiant movement, and concludes with a heart-rending melodic serenity. Of historical interest, Bruch who was non-Jewish, was perceived — because of this 1880 composition — to be Jewish and like Mendelssohn, and others, had his music banned in Germany in the 1930s and 1940s.

    “Sasha” Russakovsky performs this work with the Orchestra. This will likely be the first appearance of this touching piece in the 52 year history of MSO.             

    The concert is now ready for the Tchaikovsky “ Symphony No. 4”. Tchaikovsky  gave Popular Music  a constant infusion of memorable tunes that are difficult to enumerate. He was simply the Russian master at conjuring up an appetite for passages that swelled  and swelled until you could barely stand the tension, knowing that soon would blossom these gorgeous , romantic , overwhelming melodies. Beautiful harmonics –never with discord!

            Written in 1878, after a “not so happy” time in Tchaikovsky’s  love life, much has been made of interpretive analyses of the four movements. We simply don’know it all!! Best to listen, relax, and enjoy the elements that make this a highly ranked favorite in the modern orchestral repertoire .  This is a real showpiece that highlights the horns, the entire brass section, the percussion, the woodwinds, and, of course, the strings. The third movement is almost entirely  “plucking of strings”(Pizzicato)- a frolicking, rare treat.  Do not attempt sleep in the final movement—this is a rocketing blastoff which carries you speeding to the finish line! Somewhat unbelievable!

       Jeffery Meyer has been Artistic Director of the St. Petersburg Chamber Orchestra  in Russia  since 2002. In addition to his Ithaca College responsibilities, he conducts orchestras in the U.S. and abroad. His musical study background includes degrees in piano and composition, as well as a Doctorate of Musical Arts in Piano Performance , conferred at the State University of New York at Stony Brook. Jeffery is deeply involved in work with young musicians, and with music education, serving as adjudicator, clinician and teacher throughout  the States and in Asia.

      Alexander Russakovsky, “Sasha” to his many Meridian friends, has been Principal Cello in the Meridian Symphony Orchestra for the past decade. He is the recipient of several significant competitive awards.

    A dedicated teacher at the University of Southern Mississippi in Hattieburg, Sasha is also a serious solo performer, and a participant  in string quartets, and other chamber groups worldwide. A founding member of the Jerusalem Academy String Quartet, he has traveled with this group in Germany, Switzerland, Holland and France. He studied cello at Leningrad Conservatory and received his Bachelor of Music Degree from Jerusalem Rubin Academy. His Master of Music was obtained at Yale, and his Doctorate in Cello Performance from the University of California, Santa Barbara.

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