Alexandria Symphony Orchestra will present its season finale on Saturday, May 20, 8 p.m., at the Rachel M. Schlesinger Concert Hall and Arts Center, led by guest conductor Emil de Cou. The 73rd season has focused on masterworks, led by five renowned guest conductors, each concert anchored by a classical “popular” favorite loved by audiences from the symphonic canon.
Anchoring the Americana-themed finale is Dvořák’s Symphony No. 9 (From the New World). Considered a symphonic favorite by many for its lyrical second movement and written as both a tribute to his immigrant roots and his adopted homeland, this work borrows from Native American song, African American spirituals, Scottish melodies and Dvořák’s own Czech folk traditions.
Composed while music director for the National Conservatory of Music in New York and during his trips visiting immigrant settlements in the Midwest, he incorporated the diverse musical elements he observed as uniquely American. The added inscription “from the new world” was suggested by the conservatory’s founder Jeannette Thurber as a testament to the students he taught at the school, which came from diverse backgrounds (as immigrants and with multiple ethnicities) throughout New York City.
“The title of this symphony could just as easily been: ‘To the New World,’” observes Maestro de Cou. “Dvořák’s Symphony ‘From the New World’ remains not only a musical summation of his three year stay in the United States, but also a love letter to that still infant nation trying to find its way. This symphony becomes a musical mirror that Dvořák lifts for us to see the unending original sounds he treasured during his stay with us.”
De Cou serves as the National Symphony Orchestra at Wolf Trap conductor during the summer season and leads the Pacific Northwest Ballet as music director. He has led the Labor Day Weekend Capitol Concerts on the West Lawn of the U.S. Capitol annually since 2002 and works with NASA as musical consultant for special projects.
Opening the program is Barber’s only Violin Concerto (Op. 14), featuring ASO’s own Marlisa del Cid Woods. Woods is music director of the famed U.S. Army Strolling Strings and has performed as principal and soloist with many military ensembles and prominent symphonies. Hailed as one of the most technically difficult violin concertos ever written, Barber’s masterpiece will sparkle with Ms. Woods as soloist.
Subscriptions for the ASO’s 2017-2018 Season featuring the four finalists for music director are now on sale. Senior and military subscription pricing is available. To purchase tickets and for more information, visit www.alexsym.org or call 703-548-0885.