The Colorado Symphony Orchestra performs at the Vilar Performing Arts Center on Thursday, February 24, with an afternoon educational program for young students and a main event of Beethoven’s Fifth and Sixth Symphonies in the evening.
Petite Musique presents The Three Little Pigs
As the official state orchestra of Colorado, the symphony prioritizes education and accessibility to orchestral music for students and youth. As part of this initiative, the Colorado Symphony Orchestra is partnering with the Vail Valley Foundation’s Support The Arts Reaching Students (STARS) program to present a family performance for K-2 students at 2 p.m. Thursday, February 24.
Colorado Symphony Little Music is an interactive concert program designed to introduce very young children to orchestral instruments through the musical narrative of a children’s story. A 16-piece orchestra and a bilingual narrator will tell the story of The Three Little Pigs from the VPAC stage, incorporating storytelling and song in English and Spanish as well as dance.
Children will also receive a Three Pigs storybook as well as fun and engaging activity pages and access to the virtual concert to watch at home.
Since this show will take place during the February school break, the VPAC encourages families to attend the educational program together, rather than with their school class.
Beethoven’s Fifth and Sixth Symphonies
The Colorado Symphony Orchestra performs more than 150 concerts each year at venues across the state, undertaking a wide range of classical and contemporary music. They became known for their diverse repertoire, regularly collaborating with modern popular music stars and playing to sold-out booths at the Red Rocks Amphitheater every summer.
While these innovative arrangements have allowed the orchestra to broaden its appeal and connect with an ever-growing fanbase, artistic director Anthony Pierce said it’s programs like the upcoming Beethoven at VPAC that underpin the main mission of the orchestra.
“It’s always exciting to have our weeks dedicated to traditional works,” Pierce said. “Collaborations at Red Rocks obviously get a lot of attention, but our primary mission is to be the future of live symphonic music. We must maintain our commitment as curators of a classic art form – c is our goal.
Thursday night’s performance is a full night of Beethoven. The orchestra will perform Beethoven’s Fifth and Sixth Symphonies back to back, which is how the famous composer originally premiered them at a concert in Vienna in 1808. Although they were premiered this way, Pierce has stated that it is rare to program the two together. .
“It’s kind of a non-routine schedule for an orchestra,” Pierce said. “Typically there is a historical format for concerts, where an orchestra plays an overture, then a soloist plays a concerto, you do an intermission and you come back for a symphony. It’s different for us to present two symphonies, one on each half of the program, so that’s exciting. It’s going to be cool for the players.
The idea to undertake this unique arrangement came from guest conductor Markus Stenz. Stenz will conduct the Colorado Symphony Orchestra in this program for four nights this week, opening at the Vilar Performing Arts Center before a three-night performance at Boettcher Concert Hall in Denver.
Stenz, who is from Germany, has previously served as guest conductor for the orchestra, and Pierce said they are always looking for opportunities to work with him.
“He’s just always charismatic and inspiring,” Pierce said. “He has non-routine mannerisms, if you will. It usually places the bass to the right of the stage, while we usually see the bass to the left. He can also split the violins where the first and second violins are on opposite sides of the stage. So it just serves to open everyone’s ears in a new way. It’s always interesting.
The orchestra will open the evening with Beethoven’s Sixth Symphony, entitled “Pastoral”. The symphony is written as a tribute to nature, with five movements that begin with “Awakening of Cheerful Feelings on Arriving in the Country”, ride through a mighty storm, and end in peaceful serenity with “Shepherd’s Song”.
The reverence for nature that Pastorale accomplishes makes it a fitting symphony to enjoy in the valley.
“I can’t wait to experience the sensation of performing the Pastoral Symphony surrounded by your breathtaking nature,” Stenz said.
After an intermission, the orchestra will conclude the evening with Beethoven’s Fifth Symphony, one of the most famous pieces of its kind. The Fifth is instantly recognizable by its first four notes, meant to ominously symbolize fate knocking at the door.
The two symphonies were completed around the same time, but evoke very different emotional experiences. Thursday’s performance will give listeners a sense of the breadth and emotional depth of Beethoven during some of his best years as a composer.
This will be the first time the Colorado Symphony Orchestra has performed at VPAC in many years, and Pierce said they are happy to return to venues across the state after a difficult pandemic season.
“We love to get out all over the state and share what we’re doing,” Pierce said. “The pandemic has been difficult for everyone, but we are delighted to be back and playing as much as possible. We have done everything we can to keep the orchestra playing, keep the musicians fit and really protect our artists. I’m very proud of everything we’ve done.