FL MORRIS / FMORRIS@STARBULLETIN.COM
JoAnn Falletta will conduct the Honolulu Symphony during this weekend's performances.
Old world, new world
JoAnn Falletta, artistic advisor to the Honolulu Symphony, says orchestras must "strike a balance" in performing both beloved, classic pieces and new works
SYMPHONIC conductors are no strangers to frequent-flyer miles, but by now JoAnn Falletta should be able to navigate the airliner herself between Buffalo, where she's music director of the Buffalo Philharmonic Orchestra; Virginia, ditto for the Virginia Symphony Orchestra; and Honolulu, where she's artistic advisor to the Honolulu Symphony Orchestra.
In concert: 8 p.m. Friday and 4 p.m. Sunday
Place: Blaisdell Concert Hall
Tickets: $12 to $65
Call: 792-2000 or visit honolulusymphony.com
Falletta has been touted by the Washington Post for wielding "Toscanini's tight control over ensemble, Walter's affectionate balancing of inner voices, Stokowski's gutsy showmanship and a controlled frenzy worthy of Bernstein." Praise so high she included it on her Web site.
But conducting is not just waving a baton at musicians and wearing gowns that don't bunch up in back. Falletta is a musical educator as well, and has a personal mission to showcase overlooked composers. She is leading the orchestra in "Old World, New World" Friday and Sunday, and it ain't Dvorak, which comes later in the season.
"World" actually showcases three composers who exemplify American and European sensibilities:
» Joan Tower's work, "Made in America," is to be performed in each of the 50 states this year, an unprecedented project. "The work captures the American spirit and quotes from 'America the Beautiful'," Falletta said. "Joan's works are known for their rhythmic impetus, sense of proportion, development, architecture and powerful orchestrations. It is not surprising that her favorite composer is Beethoven."
There's a trans-Atlantic connection right there.
» Brahms' Violin Concerto will feature guest violinist Elmar Oliveira, the fiddling son of Portuguese immigrants who's the only American violinist to win the Gold Medal at Moscow's Tchaikovsky International Competition, not to mention the Order of Santiago, Portugal's highest civilian honor. "It is a work of great nobility and grandeur, and a perfect tribute to the spirit of the classical masters -- Beethoven, Haydn and Mozart," rhapsodized Falletta.
FL MORRIS / FMORRIS@STARBULLETIN.COM
"Not only is our orchestra a beautiful repository of treasures of the past, it is also a mirror of our current society. It is very exciting to mix contemporary pieces with standards in the repertoire, and it is always fascinating to discover new works."
Artistic advisor, Honolulu Symphony
"The second movement features one of the most sublime solos for oboe ever written. Oboists like to claim that their solo is the most wonderful moment in the entire concerto."
» The Strauss suite from the opera "Der Rosenkavalier," despite including "some of the most exquisite Viennese waltzes ever written," is somber Richard Strauss, not the frothy Johann Strauss.
"It's an extraordinary work of lush symphonic sweep," said Falletta. "Strauss was a genius in writing music that literally makes every member of the orchestra shine with virtuosity."
And now, as Beethoven wrote at the beginning of the choral movement of his Ninth Symphony, let's get to the singing bit. Or at least a brief Q&A on Falletta's overall view of the symphony:
Question: What's your reaction to the new season, after being with the Honolulu Symphony for a while?
Answer: We certainly tried to fill our season with some of the favorite pieces in the repertoire. We are hoping that people will enjoy hearing some of the most beloved works played by the superb Honolulu Symphony musicians.
Q: Where is the tipping point for symphonies, between the traditional and the avante-garde?
A: I think symphonies must indeed strike a balance. Not only is our orchestra a beautiful repository of treasures of the past, it is also a mirror of our current society. It is very exciting to mix contemporary pieces with standards in the repertoire, and it is always fascinating to discover new works.
Q: Which classical composers seem to strike a chord with listeners?
A: There are certain composers who are internationally beloved. Beethoven is the most beloved composer of all time. I think composers such as Mozart, Brahms, Vivaldi, Bach, Strauss, Tchaikovsky, Dvorak will always be on the Top 10 list of most listeners worldwide.
In Hawaii, there is also a great interest in pieces that reflect our native culture, and this is true in most communities.