By Sheena Barnett/NEMS Daily Journal
Tributes to the troops and Trail of Tears, a Brahms concerto, a Christmas program and musical journey around the world all made up the Tupelo Symphony Orchestra’s 40th season, and this weekend that season comes to a close with a powerful program.
Conductor Steven Byess has put together a collection of pieces that celebrates the symphony’s rich history, its successful present and bright future.
“It’s befitting the grandeur of a 40th season finale,” Byess said. “It’s a great variety of musical selections on the program, but each of them is significant. Each of them is a towering example of the composer’s work. It’s really a bold and brassy program.”
The concert opens with Dukas’ “Fanfare to La Peri.”
“It’s one of Dukas’ best works,” he said. “It’s an arresting way to begin our program.”
Following that is Beethoven’s “Concerto No. 2 for Piano.”
“There’s a dialogue of sorts with the orchestra, the piano, the orchestra, the piano,” Byess said. “It’s one of the most gorgeous pieces in the orchestral repertoire.”
Joining the TSO for this piece is German pianist Alexander Schimpf, who is visiting Tupelo for the first time to perform with the symphony.
“It’s very clever, so it’s a jovial and mildly effervescent concerto,” he said. “It’s a great balance with these really bold, brassy works to have this wonderful piano concerto.”
Shostakovich’s “Festive Overture” brings the program back from intermission.
“Shostakovich wrote some very serious music, but this is just a brilliant, thrilling overture,” Byess said.
The show closes with Respighi’s “The Pines of Rome,” a piece that is a tribute to the legendary city.
“It’s a brilliant example of using everybody in the orchestra to the extreme, with technique and musical themes,” he said. “It has one of the most exciting and breathtaking crescendos. It’s one of the most exciting finishes for any piece, and it is a perfect choice to end our 40th anniversary season.”
Byess said he hopes the program reflects the love and hard work of the people who support the Tupelo Symphony Orchestra.
“It’s also a musical show of gratitude for the testament of the commitment of people who’ve made it exist, starting at the top with Margaret Anne Murphey,” he said of the TSO executive director. “She’s the heart and soul of the symphony.”
This finale is also a thank you to the city for supporting the symphony, he said.
“I conduct orchestras all over the country,” Byess said, “and I am proud to say the Tupelo Symphony Orchestra is a genuinely amazing musical ensemble, and ranks with some of the finest regional orchestras in the country and surpasses many orchestras of much larger size, and many orchestras in cities of much larger size. This concert is a showcase of the talents of the orchestra and the amazing musicians that comprise the Tupelo Symphony Orchestra.”
WHAT: Tupelo Symphony Orchestra 40th Season Finale, featuring Alexander Schimpf
WHEN: 7:30 p.m. Saturday
WHERE: Link Centre, Tupelo
TICKETS: $20/adults, $10/students
INFO: (662) 842-8433
DINE IN: There will be a pre-concert dinner in the Link Centre reception hall for $35/person. The menu includes leg of lamb, fresh herb pesto, spring peas and onion, buttermilk crescents and carrot cake. Wine is also available for purchase.