Star-crossed lovers, NY on TSO concert bill

2012-10-25T00:00:00Z Star-crossed lovers, NY on TSO concert billCathalena E. Burch Cburch@azstarnet.com Arizona Daily Star
October 25, 2012 12:00 am  • 

"O Romeo, Romeo, wherefore art thou, Romeo?"

This weekend, he and Juliet are hanging out with the Tucson Symphony Orchestra.

Next month, they'll take the stage with Arizona Opera and in February, they will be in Phoenix with Ballet Arizona.

The TSO and Ballet Arizona are tackling Prokofiev's famous work; Arizona Opera mounts Gounod's version of the tragic love story.

The symphony's performance takes the tale one step further, pairing it with Leonard Bernstein's 20th-century update "West Side Story." In between the two, the orchestra will perform Iranian-American composer Richard Danielpour's "Toward the Splendid City," a piece that recalls Bernstein and pays homage to the New York Philharmonic as well as Bernstein's beloved New York City - which also is Danielpour's beloved hometown. There also are references to John Lennon, said TSO Conductor George Hanson.

Danielpour will be in the audience for Friday's concert and will join Hanson in the pre-concert talk. He also will speak at the University of Arizona Confluencenter for Creative Inquiry series Saturday as part of a weeklong visit that includes working with the students in the TSO's Young Composers Project.

"For us to have him coming here for a week is really a coup. He is a pivotal figure in the development of American music as we know it … in the broadest sense," Hanson said of Danielpour, whose visit is coordinated by the UA. "He's one of the people who really shaped what serious American music sounds like today."

This concert will mark Hanson's 10th time conducting "West Side Story," including a couple of earlier performances with the TSO. It is a piece he first heard as a young conducting fellow at the Tanglewood Music Festival in Massachusetts with Bernstein in the summer of 1983 and fell instantly in love.

"The music is so stunning," said Hanson, who marveled at Bernstein's use of an ambiguous augmented fourth interval woven throughout. The effect leaves you wondering at the end if the death of two lovestruck teens was worth it. Was it a happy ending?

"Frankly that's one of the many elements of genius of the work," Hanson said.

Prokofiev and Bernstein are not often paired.

"That's a program that I've wanted to put together for years: Prokofiev and Bernstein. Two tellings of the same story so you can juxtapose two ways of telling the story … a more traditional view of the ballet from Prokofiev, and the far-left traditional view of Bernstein," Hanson said. "Musically these are the two strongest, in my view."

If you go

• What: Tucson Symphony Orchestra "Romeo and Juliet/West Side Story."

• When: 8 p.m. Friday and 2 p.m. Sunday.

• Where: Tucson Music Hall, 260 S. Church Ave.

• Tickets: $26 to $79 through www.tucsonsymphony.org

• Program:

Prokofiev's Selections From "Romeo and Juliet."

Danielpour's "Toward the Splendid City."

Bernstein's "Symphonic Dances" from "West Side Story."

• Et cetera: Composer Richard Danielpour is spending the week in Tucson. Included on his agenda, he will work with the TSO's Young Composers Project students and will be a guest speaker with the University of Arizona Confluencenter for Creative Inquiry. Danielpour, one of the leading American composers today, will discuss "The Trouble With Scheherazade: Romance and Reality" at 11 a.m. Saturday at the University of Arizona BookStores in the Student Union Memorial Center. Admission is free; 621-5137 or confluencecenter.arizona.edu

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