After last years silver anniversary season of the San Juan Symphony, musical director and maestro Arthur Post was thankful. And as symphonies nationwide from Philadelphia to Albuquerque crumble in financial ruin, its easy to understand why he, and classical music lovers throughout the Four Corners, should be grateful for what we have.
That is also why hopes are high for this Season of Appreciation, the theme for the 2011-12 San Juan Symphonys series of concerts. Post selected programs to celebrate through music what we value here: Friends & Family, Community, Laughter and Nature.
For Sundays Friends & Family opener, Post will welcome back two familiar faces.
The orchestra will open with Sam Cardons Song of the Mountain Poets.
Cardon, a Farmington native, spent much of his childhood in the San Juan Mountains and composed a poetic suite that the symphony performed in 2009. Featured guest, pianist Norman Krieger, has been a familiar face in the Four Corners since his time as Fort Lewis Colleges first artist in residence in the 1990s.
Normans part of Durangos musical family, and Im so happy he could join us for this season, Post said at his Wednesday preview lecture at the Durango Arts Center. Post delivers his Musically Speaking previews the Wednesday before each weekend symphony performance.
Krieger will play Beethovens famous Concerto No. 3 for Piano and Orchestra, which Post said the symphony last performed in 2001.
After 10 years, I figured we could bring it back, he said. The concertos are such strong pieces because Beethoven was a pianist himself; in his composed music for the piano, you really get a sense of the grandeur.
After intermission, the remainder of the program will be filled by Edward Elgars Variations on an Original Theme, commonly known as the Enigma Variations. Post chose the piece after another realization at the conclusion of last years season.
This is the first piece Ive programmed by a British composer, Post said. I dont like a lot of British music ... but the main reason is, theres not a lot of it.
As one of the few, if only, famous British composers, Elgar is the exception. He is probably most famous for composing Pomp and Circumstance, the theme music to so many graduations, but the Enigma Variations are his greatest and most creative accomplishment. The choice is perfect for the Friends & Family program, because each of 14 variations on the original 17-measure theme was written to honor (or mock) one of his friends, students or acquaintences.
You get a real sense of the love he had for these people, Post said.