The Tulare County Symphony is made up of many talented musicians, and four of them will be featured at the concert on Saturday, Feb. 8 at 7:30 p.m. at the Visalia Fox Theatre. The concert will conclude with Shostakovich’s most popular work, “Symphony No. 5.”
The Poet and the Muse
Concertmaster Susan Doering and cellist Dieter Wulfhorst were asked by music director Bruce Kiesling to consider playing individual solos with the orchestra, but the husband-wife team wanted to play something together.
“We feel that the piece is a musical alliance between the violin as the Muse and the cello as the Poet,” they said. “We find it to be a work of intimate sensitivity, a conversation between two individuals, in which the warm tones and sublime colors of the violin combine with the vibrant and sensuous harmonies of the cello. There are wide ranges of colors and emotions and you can hear as each instrument embodies the characters of the Muse and the Poet.”
Doering and Wulfhorst have been playing together since 1986 and were married in 1993. They both joined the symphony in 2001. Doering became concertmaster in 2010. Both teach music at Fresno Pacific University and play with several other regional orchestras. They also perform in a music series called Musica Viva and their own Emerald Duo.
Elegy by Fauré
Principal cellist Valerie Walden had performed “Elgy” with piano but never had the opportunity to perform it with the richness of the orchestral accompaniment.
“I love to play this work because the audience response is so intense to the vocal qualities of the primary melody. The Elegy is in C minor, which is a key structure that highlights the natural overtones of the cello, making it easier to pull out the rich sound of the instrument. It is the tonal equivalent to very dark chocolate.”
Walden has a Ph.D is from the University of Auckland, New Zealand and is an internationally recognized authority on cello history.
In November she was in London for 10 days at the invitation of the London Cello Society. They were celebrating their 10th anniversary and invited Walden to write the main article for their newsletter and program, which celebrated Stradivari cellos. The celebration included a concert featuring seven Stradivari cellos played by their world class players.
Horn Concerto No. 1 in C Minor by Franz Strauss
Principal horn Elisha Wilson chose this horn concerto because the composer was a famous horn player, and he beautifully composed the piece to showcase the broad technical capacities of the horn, as well as the hauntingly beautiful melodic ways of the horn.
The Concerto in C Minor traces the familiar three-movement structure that is found within most concertos, but is truncated so as to form a single, extended movement with a central lyrical episode (the second movement). All the movements are to be played consecutively without pause, and were composed in such a way that there is an uninterrupted transition between each movement, which gently leads the listener down a path of complete engagement. The principal flute also plays a significant role in highlighting the horn melodies by dressing them with countermelodies periodically throughout the concerto.
Wilson has played with the symphony since 2004. She is the minister of worship and arts at University Presbyterian Church in Fresno and an adjunct lecturer and horn instructor at College of Sequoias as well as California State University, Stanislaus. In addition she is the music director and conductor for the Visalia Opera Company, which performed “The Marriage of Figaro” in October.
Symphony No. 5 by Shostakovich
In 1937 Russia, at the height of Stalin’s purges, the Communist Party strongly denounced Dmitri Shostakovich’s most recent works. Fearing for his life, the young composer wrote a symphony ending with a rousing march. The work’s traditional formal structure and direct musical language served to placate Stalin and the party. The first three movements are deeply tragic. The finale shatters the rapt stillness of the Largo (third movement) with a violent and brutish march.
Tickets to the concert are $30 to $39.50 at the Symphony office, 208 W. Main Street, Suite D, Visalia, downstairs in Montgomery Square. Student prices are $10. Tickets are also available at 732-8600 or go to www.tularecountysymphony.com.