ASO and Maestro Ross Re-imagine the Symphony

Posted Sep 18, 2019 | ASO News, Press Releases, 

Alexandria, VA—Under the direction of Music Director James Ross, the Alexandria Symphony Orchestra (ASO) opens its 2019-2020 Season on Saturday, October 5, 2019 (8:00 p.m.) at the Rachel M. Schlesinger Concert Hall and Arts Center and Sunday, October 6, 2019 (3:00 p.m.) at the George Washington Masonic Memorial.

For the season opener, Maestro Ross has arranged his own “Imaginary Symphony,” drawing from movements by four composers across centuries and continents. Each movement is part of a cohesive symphonic work that reflects on war and peace, commemorating the 75th anniversary of D-Day. The first movement is borrowed from William Walton’s Symphony No. 1 (mvt. 1), which he composed prior to WWII and foreshadows the impending war with dark and intense agitation. The work continues with the second movement from Amy Beach’s Gaelic Symphony; this was a milestone as the first symphonic work to be composed and published by an American woman. The next excerpt is Ethel Smyth’s “On the Cliffs of Cornwall” from her opera The Wreckers. Both Beach’s and Smyth’s pieces paint pastoral, tranquil landscapes. The final excerpt is from Arthur Honegger’s Symphony No. 3 (mvt. 3), evoking armies marching to war and culminating with a call for peace.

“Conductors are rarely composers,” says Maestro Ross. “By excerpting some of the strongest movements from these works, I hope to shed deserved light on pieces that have lain fairly absent from our concert halls. I can’t promise this will be the last ‘Imaginary Symphony’ I create!”

Furthering the remembrance of D-Day, the ASO will present Tidbit #1 by Lionel Semiatin. The composer served as a corporal in the Army and fought on that fateful day; this piece is a love letter he wrote to America shortly after the battle.  Semiatin’s daughter, Gene Pohl, plays in the viola section with the ASO and will perform her father’s piece for the first time; she will join Maestro Ross for a pre-concert chat one hour prior to the Saturday performance.

The program also features Beethoven’s Triple Concerto with renowned soloists Rita Sloan (piano), Nicholas Tavani (violin) and Alan Richardson (cello). Tavani and Richardson perform frequently as members of the famed Aeolus Quartet. Internationally recognized as a leading teacher of collaborative piano and chamber music, Ms. Sloan has performed with many distinguished artists and ensembles throughout the United States and abroad.