Symphony celebrating heroes at Jan. 20 concert

Dori O'Neal, Herald staff writerJanuary 18, 2013 

The Mid-Columbia Symphony will pay homage to grand themes at its Jan. 20 concert, featuring the music of Peter Ilyich Tchaikovsky, Ludwig van Beethoven and Aaron Copland.

"This next concert will be very dramatic," said conductor Nicholas Wallin. "I titled it Heroes, and I meant for it to be big. I don't mean to glorify war or militarism, but I do mean to recognize some fantastic music that celebrates heroes who have made a stand."

Instead of the usual Three Rivers Convention Center venue, the concert will be performed in the auditorium at Richland High School, 930 Long Ave. Showtime is 3 p.m. Tickets cost $25 to $50 and are available at the door, the symphony office at 1177 Jadwin Ave. in Richland or by calling 943-6602.

The program includes Tchaikovsky's 1812 Overture, Copland's Lincoln Portrait and Beethoven's Symphony No. 3.

Beethoven's third symphony, also known as the Eroica, is one of the most noteworthy pieces in music history, along with works by Mozart, Wagner and Stravinsky, Wallin said. Before Beethoven wrote it, most musical compositions were written primarily as entertainment. But he wanted his music to be serious art, not just entertainment.

Eroica was originally intended as a tribute to Napoleon, but Beethoven apparently changed its dedication after the French leader declared himself emperor in 1804. Beethoven admitted to his close friends about the same time he wrote the symphony that he was becoming increasingly deaf, so his music became an outlet and he decided to write it exactly as he wanted it to go, not to try to please anyone else.

"For us, with the benefit of 200 more years of developments in symphonic music in our ears, a lot of the radical changes that Beethoven made to the symphony are sometimes hard to notice," Wallin said. "Contemporary listeners will notice the soaring heroic themes, the darkness and depth of the funeral march, and the triumphant conclusion of the finale.

"What remains above all, and always will remain, is the power of the music's overwhelming drama."

Copland's Lincoln Portrait is a tone poem that features dynamic music and text from some of Lincoln's most famous speeches, Wallin said. Jeff Phillips from KONA 610 AM radio will narrate the performance.

"Lincoln, of course, is one of our most celebrated presidents and a pivotal figure in the emancipation of slaves," Wallin said. "We are in the midst of a 150th-year remembrance of the Civil War."

The 1812 Overture is one of the most recognizable and dramatic pieces in Tchaikovsky's repertoire, Wallin said. He wrote it on a commission to commemorate Russia's defense of the motherland against Napoleon's invasion in 1812.

It's often played as a patriotic hymn at Fourth of July celebrations in the United States, complete with volleys of cannon fire, Wallin said.

The volleys of cannon fire, however, will be simulated through musical instruments.

*Dori O'Neal: 582-1514;

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