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Nature takes the stage at next Symphony concert

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The often-mesmerizing beauty of nature is put to music in the Peoria Symphony Orchestra’s next concert, titled “Nature’s Majesty,” to be performed Saturday at 8 p.m. in the Peoria Civic Center Theatre.

Featuring the music of Ralph Vaughan Williams, John Williams and Jean Sibelius, “Nature’s Majesty” also will feature solo performances by the PSO’s own concertmaster Marcia Henry Liebenow on violin and Micjael Dicker on the bassoon.

Speaking about the music, Symphony conductor and music director George Stelluto said, “Our connection to nature is utterly primal. Nature was the source of our survival, our existential challenges, and our sense of awe from the moment we became cognizant beings. Its beauty, its creative and destructive power, and its sheer sublimity became the font of our first wonderment's, our first superstitions, and our first spiritual explorations. It was natural for us to want to empathize with it, to explain it, to control it.

“Whether through science, mythology, or art, nature initiated humanity's creative genius - from cave paintings to  shamans' tales to stone tools. And, nature continues to inspire us. Even now, as celestial travelers, our science, science fiction, and art-forms continue to explore the majesty and mystery of nature. And so we take three wonderful musical journeys on Nov. 22 to experience nature through music's ineffable magic of description, suggestion, and inspiration,” he said.  

Stelluto said Ralph Vaughan Williams'The Lark Ascending” was inspired by the pastoral poetry of George Meredith. “In a tender irony, Vaughan Williams wrote it while watching troops embarking from England for the Great War - begun only 100 years ago this year. Both the poetry and the music soar effortlessly, mesmerizing us with the peaceful beauty of nature in harmony,” he said.

 

Liebenow plays the part of the Lark. “After hearing this bucolic masterpiece, one cannot help but look at nature with a deeper appreciation and care. Marcia's violin itself is a collaborative effort between humanity and nature - centuries in the making. From ancient lands and forests, human hands created an instrument that gives voice to the wood through her caring hands - much as the earliest cave dwellers may have carved instruments from wood and bone and paid homage to nature,” Stelluto said.

 

John Williams'Five Sacred Trees” was written to commemorate the 150th anniversary of the New York Philharmonic. “You will create your own images as you listen to this virtuoso work for bassoon and orchestra. (Dicker) is out shaman for the evening, telling the story and showing the glory of this enchanted musical forest as if his instrument was hewn from those very woods,” Stelluto said.

  

Sibelius wrote his “Symphony No. 5”  as a government commission for an important Finnish national holiday - his 50th birthday, Stelluto said. “Imagine your birthday being declared a national holiday - while you are still alive!”

Stelluto will present a pre-concert lecture about the music at 7 p.m. and there will be a reception after the concert in the theater lobby.

 

 

Tickets are on sale for Saturday’s concert and start at $29. They can be purchased online at www.peoriasymphony.org, by phone at (309) 671-1096, at the PSO box office at 101 State St. in Peoria, which is open 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. weekdays and noon to 2 p.m. the day of the concert. They also can be purchased at the Civic Center Theatre box office at 7 p.m. the night of the concert.