By Nancy R. Elliott
The Herald Bulletin
ANDERSON — Great literature, all things royal, and tea easily leap to mind when we Westerners think ‘British.’ It’s British music, however, to which the Anderson Symphony Orchestra turns the spotlight Saturday night, celebrating the works of English composers. The evening at the Paramount Theatre in Anderson will feature principal oboist Aryn Sweeney.
Works by Edward Elgar, Benjamin Britten, Ralph Vaughan Williams and William Walton will steep listeners in a varied sampling of English composition.
Edward Elgar composed "Enigma Variations" at the end of the 19th century. Among the most popular of Elgar’s works, listeners can explore the mystery of the enigmatic theme for themselves.
The work of 20th century composer Benjamin Britten is also presented. The ASO’s performance acknowledges the centennial celebration of Britten’s birth in November 1913. Britten’s "Gloriana Dances" make an especially apt work for the English theme, as the pieces are taken from the "Gloriana" opera originally composed for the coronation of Queen Elizabeth II in 1953.
The ASO will perform two pieces from William Walton’s score for "Henry V," including "Touch Her Soft Lips and Part" as well as "The Death of Falstaff." Walton is also a 20th century composer who not only wrote film scores but orchestral works and operas.Dr. Aryn Sweeney steps into the spotlight for Ralph Vaughan Williams’ Oboe Concerto, composed during World War II. Sweeney joined the ASO as principal oboist in 2012.
Throughout her career as a professional musician, Sweeney has developed a connection to the composer and to the work she performs tomorrow night. That connection inspired Sweeney’s winning performance of the concerto at the Barbirolli International Oboe Festival and Competition in 2005.
"The concerto is a beautiful piece," said Sweeney. "It begins in Aeolian mode and has a very unique folk sound. It's quite rhapsodic. The second movement is pastoral, congruent with the long oboe tradition of evoking a pastoral nature. The final movement is playful, very fast and technically challenging for the full orchestra as well as the oboe.”
With the support of the Indiana Arts Commission’s Individual Artist grants, Sweeney has commissioned Jenny Brandon to compose a companion piece for solo voice and oboe to another of Ralph Vaughan Williams' works, "Blake Songs." That piece will be premiered on March 4 at Ball State University with Williams' "Blake Songs."
Sweeney holds degrees from the University of Southern California, Rice University, the University of Michigan and the Royal College of Music in London. A recipient of the Frank Huntington Beebe Foundation Grant, Sweeney chose to study in England.
"England has a long history of exceptional oboe players, most notably Leon Goossens. He was the first oboe player in the world to play with vibrato," said Sweeney. Ralph Vaughan Williams was a professor at the Royal College, as well as composer Edward Elgar.
In addition to the ASO, Sweeney plays with the Lexington Philharmonic, Muncie Symphony Orchestra, Musical Arts Quintet, Indianapolis Chamber Orchestra and Fort Wayne Symphony. She is on faculty at Ball State University's School of Music.
The evening of brilliant English music commences at 7:30 p.m. Prior to the music, Dr. Christopher Holmes of the Anderson University School of Music will present a pre-concert talk at 6:30 p.m. in the Marquee Room.
The Paramount Theatre is located at 1124 Meridian St. in Anderson. For more information or tickets, visit www.andersonsymphony.org online or call 765-644-2111.
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If you go What: Anderson Symphony Orchestra's British are Coming When: Saturday, Nov. 9, 7:30 p.m.Where: Paramount Theatre, 1124 Meridian St., Anderson More info: Tickets are $18 - $32, $5 for students, and can be purchased at www.AndersonSymphony.org or by calling 765-644-2111. Dr. Christopher Holmes of Anderson University will present a free pre-concert lecture at 6:30 in the Marquee Room.