Music lovers can enjoy a real treat on March 11 when the Dexter Community Orchestra collaborates with pianist Christopher Harding to present Beethoven’s Piano Concerto No. 4. Music director Anthony Elliott will conduct the program, which also includes pieces by Prokofiev and Sibelius. The concert will take place Sunday, March 11 at 4 p.m. in the Dexter High School Center for Performing Arts.
Mr. Harding, an internationally renowned pianist, is an associate professor and Chair of the Piano Department at University of Michigan School of Music, Theatre and Dance. He has performed with major orchestras including Washington DC’s National Symphony, the St. Louis Symphony Orchestra and the Tokyo City Philharmonic.
The “Beethoven Four” is perhaps the master’s most lyrical concerto, filled with flowing melodies and surprising harmonic twists, the piece presents many technical and artistic challenges for soloist and orchestra. The great Arthur Rubenstein referred to it simply as “the greatest piano concerto”.
The other works on the program present pleasures and challenges of their own. Prokofiev’s “Lieutenant Kije Shite” is a wry, humorous composition based on a Russian story about a fictitious military hero invented by a group of officers to cover up a comrade’s indiscretion. This “fake news” hero attracts the notice of the Tsar, and the officers must continue to produce increasingly heroic and improbable stories about Kije. Prokofiev’s music captures the whimsical nature of the story through unconventional orchestration, droll melodies and unexpected harmonic dissonances.
The final work on the program, Sibelius’ “Symphony No. 2” is a nationalistic piece composed during a period when Finland (the composer’s native country) was struggling for independence from Russia. Although Sibelius’ intent was not clear, many Finns call it the “symphony of independence”, and its four movements are widely viewed as a journey from pastoral serenity to bitter oppression to revolutionary struggle and finally, to triumphant freedom.
The Dexter Community Orchestra is a not-for-profit organization dedicated to presenting outstanding music to western Washtenaw County. The orchestra does not charge admission for its concerts, but donations are gratefully accepted.