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PEI Symphony

by Anne Bergstrom

The final concert of the season for the PEI Symphony, on Sunday March 28 at 2:30 pm, will feature four of the Symphony’s principal wind players in Mozart’s Sinfonia Concertante in E flat. A sinfonia concertante is a piece for more than one solo instrument with orchestra; for example, Mozart also wrote one for violin and viola. The one for four winds, according to music director James Mark, has an interesting history.

Mozart originally composed this piece for flute, oboe, horn and bassoon with orchestra, in 1778 at the age of 22. The music was performed, but he never got the score back. This did not present a big obstacle for Wolfgang: years later, when he decided to do it again, but to replace the flute with clarinet for a good friend of his, he simply wrote it out, from memory. The piece retains the youthful exuberance of the early Mozart, though the version with clarinet appeared a number of years later.

The soloists will be Belinda Code, oboe, Karem Simon, clarinet, James Code, horn, and Robert Lewis, bassoon. All are presently playing first chair in their respective sections of the symphony. Both Belinda and James Code are on the music faculty at Mount Allison University, and Karem Simon is on the music faculty at UPEI. Robert Lewis plays and teaches bassoon in the Moncton area, and plays in Symphony New Brunswick. Both Robert Lewis and Belinda Code have played solos with the PEI Symphony before. The concept of a solo group is a bit different. The four soloists have to work together very closely, and even play a cadenza together—usually a passage where the solo player can show off alone.

The symphony will also be performing Symphony No. 5 in D by Ralph Vaughan Williams, possibly a first for the orchestra. Vaughan Williams was a British composer of the 19th and 20th centuries. James Mark says that the fifth symphony, composed between 1938 and 1943, is a pastoral and beautiful work. The fourth symphony, written in the early thirties, is an angry and dissonant piece. Perhaps the fifth symphony was an attempt to express hope in the midst of the horrors of war, though Vaughan Williams refused to ascribe a meaning to the symphony’s content.

Another Mozart piece will be on the program, the Overture to his opera The Magic Flute. This lighthearted and fanciful music was written near the end of Mozart’s life, at age 35, and the melodies are joyful and bouncy.

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