Back to the Great Outdoors: Britt Orchestra’s Big Finale at the Britt Pavilion
Meticulously selected, practiced, and performed, this season for Britt Orchestra has been masterfully thematic, though not without a few challenges along the way (um, the smoke monster!). The last two performances for the orchestra are Aug. 10 and 11. In commemoration of Leonard Bernstein’s 100th birthday, several of the symphonies selected reflect his musical career.
“Not only are we performing Bernstein compositions, the orchestra is also performing pieces that reflect Bernstein sensibilities that influenced him,” says Director of Marketing Mike Gantenbein.
The Friday show will feature violinist Anthony Marwood, who will perform Bernstein’s “Serenade.”
Throughout Marwood’s career and as a student, music has taken him around the world playing for several composers and being featured in multiple orchestras, and he is recognized for his singular energy, and also his ability to play collaboratively.
Previous orchestra shows’ locations had been changed due to the smoke, forcing the orchestra to find a temporary performance space at North Medford High School’s auditorium, but these two final concerts will move back to the beloved, outdoor Britt Pavilion. The smoke also altered the performance pieces.
“We removed Mahler’s Symphony No. 6 and revised it with a couple of pieces that were not performed on opening night but could’ve been,” says Gantenbein. “Plus, we moved Richard Strauss’ ‘Also Sprach Zarathustra’ to the Closing Night program in its place. This is a grand piece that most people recognize as the musical theme for 2001: A Space Odyssey. It is very fitting for the closing night; there’s much more to it than the movie score reveals.”
The Aug. 10 program consists of Leonard Bernstein’s “Candide: Overture,” Leonard Bernstein’s “Serenade,” featuring Marwood, and Dimitri Shostakovich’s “Symphony No. 10 in E Minor.” The new Closing Night programs entails John Williams’ “Superman March,” Paul Dukas’ “The Sorcerer’s Apprentice,” and Richard Strauss’ “Also Sprach Zarathustra.”
Gantenbein says the biggest challenge this season has been the hazardous smoky weather that has forced the orchestra to move, which they didn’t have much time to prepare for.
“There are a lot of logistics to moving orchestra performances,” he says. “It includes more than just the logistics of getting musicians to a new location. There are several large instruments music stands and other equipment that need to be arranged as well. Plus, you may not expect it, but there is a sound system involved as well.”
Rearranging programs to better fit performing locations poses another challenge, especially when planning for the orchestra’s season is figured out a year in advance. According to Gantenbein, it starts with choosing the theme for the season. What follows is selected the musical compositions that best fit the theme.
“We also focus on commissioning at least one work each year, and this plays into the thematic choices as well as the featured artists,” he explains. “For example, this year Measha Brueggergosman was selected to perform the commission work by Gabriel Cane at both commissioned performances. The piece was co-commissioned by the Oregon Symphony and was performed with Measha in Portland as well.” The performance took place on July 27 during this season.
Britt Orchestra’s opening night showcased scores by classic movie composer John Williams, as well as works by Rossini, Mozart, and Wagner that have been featured in several film scores throughout history.
“We hope to see our patrons inspired by the musical selection that Britt Orchestra brings each season,” Gantenbein says. “It is our mission to introduce new music and new classical music concepts to our audiences while maintaining a foundation of traditional pieces performed by modern orchestras.” While the orchestra has been forced to move indoors and rearrange their performance, it in no way takes the authenticity or excitement out of their performances.
Britt Orchestra’s Last Two Performances of the Season
7:30 pm, Friday, August 10 and Saturday, August 11
Britt Pavilion, 350 First Street, Jacksonville