It’s music for the ears: The Dallas Chamber Symphony kicks off its ninth season, starting with a concert at Moody Performance Hall in the Dallas Arts District on October 19. This is the first concert that the orchestra has given in front of an audience in a concert hall since February 2020.
“The audience adds so much to any performance. It really makes a difference in the way people play. It makes the performance so much more fun, ”said Richard McKay, artistic director and conductor of the Dallas Chamber Symphony.
The orchestra has been active during the pandemic, recording an album at Moody Performance Hall and performing their DSC Live! awareness concerts in the open air and in public spaces. The Dallas Chamber Symphony invested in its music education efforts by creating a new website for TechNotes, an educational program developed by the orchestra in 2013. The new online programs are in line with the state’s TEKS goals.
“We’ve digitized a lot of our curriculum. There are now video lessons and interactive activities on the website, ”McKay said. “Teachers can log in and see various lesson plans. They can see demonstration videos on ways they could teach various concepts.
The orchestra opens its new season with a program initially scheduled for May 2020. The 90-minute concert features music by Robert Schumann, Johannes Brahms and Felix Mendelssohn. “I like the three pieces on this program because they form a kind of tight-knit community of German romantic composers from roughly the same school,” McKay said.
The concert includes Mendelssohn’s opening to A Midsummer Night’s dream Op. 21 (1826) and Schumann’s Symphony No. 4 in D minor, op. 120 (revised 1851 version). Both works were written early in the composers’ careers. “These are very joyful works that are not really representative of the difficulties, especially psychological, that Mendelssohn and Schumann would have had later in their careers. You get that joyful effervescence from all of them and a lot of innovation when it comes to orchestration, ”McKay said.
The concert also includes Brahm’s Double Concerto for Violin and Cello in A minor, Op. 102 (1887), his last work for orchestra. “And then you have Brahms, the elder, a bit in between who would have held these two composers in high esteem, similarly influenced by the piano but writing many years later in an ultra-romantic language”, McKay said.
Brahms wrote the piece to reconcile with his distant friend, violinist Joseph Joachim after Brahms became involved in Joachim’s divorce proceedings. “Brahms felt guilty for his involvement in the divorce of this violinist and for attesting to certain things that had happened. So yeah, that was written to really make amends for this episode, ”McKay said.
The performance of the work by the Dallas Chamber Symphony will feature principal violin Kazuhiro Takagi and cellist Jesús Castro-Balbi. Because Castro-Balbi is now a professor and principal at the Dr. Bobbie Bailey School of Music at Kennesaw State University in Georgia, this will also be his farewell performance.
“Kazuhiro and Jesús are close colleagues and close friends, so this is a wonderful opportunity to collaborate one last time as they have been an integral part of the orchestra’s growth over the past few years,” McKay said.
Takagi is based in Japan and throughout the pandemic he navigated complicated testing protocols and quarantine requirements to continue working with the orchestra. “This is a major commitment for everyone involved,” McKay said. “But it’s worth it for us. He’s a wonderful talent and he improves the orchestra.
Pandemic protocols will be in place during the concert. Musicians will be masked, and masks are recommended for the public. “People are cautious right now. We just try to keep it as simple and accommodating for as many people as possible, ”McKay said.
The concerts in the 2021-2022 season reflect the development of the orchestra during the pandemic. The March 15 concert featuring the chamber symphonies of Dmitry Shostakovich will be recorded for the release of a commercial album. “This gig is an outlier because it’s designed like an album,” McKay said. “I don’t think we’ve played a single concert of music by a composer before, so this will be new to us.”
The February 8 concert will combine Renaissance-inspired works by Samuel Barber and Vaughan Williams with those of Antonio Vivaldi. The quattro Stagioni, “The four Seasons.” The concert on April 26 includes Symphony No.1 in D major, Op 25 by Sergei Prokofiev, the Hebrew Suite by Ernest Bloch and will end with Symphony No.2 in D major by Brahms, Op. 73 (1877).
“We just wanted to perform works that would shine some of the strength of our ensemble. And we wanted to perform some works that are high on the demand list of our existing audience, ”said McKay. “We hope that these concerts will invite our audience to come back to pieces that they find quite familiar, involve them in some of the work that we started during the pandemic with the recording and the pursuit of Shostakovich, and we hope that we will. implements. for what we hope will be a very normal 2022-2023 season. “
With strategic planning, a strong team, and investments in recording and information technology, McKay is excited about the future of the orchestra. “I think the next year or two is going to be pretty bright for us,” McKay said. “I think we’re going to emerge a very different business for the better of the pandemic. As hard as it may sound to call the pandemic a blessing, I think we’ve done everything we can to call it that. “
Learn more: https://www.dcsymphony.org/