Alexandria Symphony Presents Rite of Spring & Grieg Piano Concerto

Posted Mar 20, 2023 | ASO News, Events, Press Releases, 

Alexandria, VA— The Alexandria Symphony Orchestra will present its season finale entitled Awaken on Saturday, April 15, 2023 (7:30 p.m.) at the Rachel M. Schlesinger Concert Hall and Arts Center.

The program opens with Mojito con saoco by Cuban composer Guido Lòpez-Gavilàn. López-Gavilán was commissioned to write an overture by the Cuban American Youth Orchestra as a gift from CAYO to the city of Havana in honor of its 500th anniversary. The world premiere debuted in May 2019 prepared by ASO’s Music Director James Ross.

The Rite of Spring was commissioned as one of three ballet scores for the 1913 season of the Ballets Russe. While its premiere created nothing short of a riot—complete with vegetables thrown at the musicians and dancers—today it is considered one of symphonic music’s most significant works. Stravinsky’s combination of complex rhythm, dissonance and Russian folk elements influenced later 20th century composers. It is frequently recorded and performed both with and without dancers; ASO’s April performance features only the music.

“There are so many ways of thinking about the Rite of Spring,” says Maestro James Ross. “I’m asking myself, ‘What am I willing to lose to allow my future to thrive? What needs to go and what does that expulsion sound like?’ Stravinsky dreamed of an ancient tribal ritual. I hear a renewed future calling to us bracingly through notes that are still hard to predict even 110 years after they were penned.”

Edvard Grieg’s only completed piano concerto will culminate the program. Among his earliest compositions, the composer incorporated motifs from his native Norway; its main theme has made it one of the most recognized and performed in the piano repertoire. Internationally renowned pianist Natalia Kazaryan will bring this passionate and unforgettable work to life.

A sought-after soloist and recording artist, Natalia Kazaryan is dedicated to giving equal platform to female composers in her public appearances and notably curated and performed a recital of all women composers at the Smithsonian Portrait Gallery in Washington, D.C. A frequent collaborator with members of the National Symphony Orchestra, Ms. Kazaryan often appears at the Kennedy Center’s Millennium Stage and in partnership with the orchestra’s performances at Howard University. Ms. Kazaryan is a recipient of the Sobresaliente Award from the hands of Queen Sofía of Spain for outstanding work and excellence. She holds an adjunct piano faculty position at Howard University, is a board member of the International Alliance for Women in Music and co-founded the Washington Arts Ensemble.