West Virginia Symphony to perform here
The West Virginia Symphony makes its first appearance in Berkeley Springs with a performance of Romantic Masterpieces on Saturday, September 29, 7:30 p.m. at the Connie Perry Community Auditorium of Berkeley Springs High School. This is the only performance of the state's premier orchestra in the region.
"We are truly honored and excited that the West Virginia Symphony chose Berkeley Springs for the one concert a year they do as a gift to the community," said Kathy Seager, chorus director at the middle and high school, and the performance organizer. "They told us that they wanted to be in the Panhandle."
Seager explained the event would mark the first opportunity many students and adults in Morgan County would have to see and hear a full symphony orchestra. "With the generosity of local businesses and individuals, we will have a block of tickets to provide free to local youth who are in the band or choral or independent string groups," she said.
Led by conductor Grant Cooper and featuring cello soloist Joyon Pegis, the orchestra performs works by Richard Wagner, Antonin Dvorak and Sergei Rachmaninoff. "This is a selection of ramonticism in full bloom," said Paul Helfrich, Execuitve Director of the West Virginia Symphony. "It presents the audience with enduring masterpieces from Germany to Russia." Like the romantic movement in art and literature, musical romanticism is a 19th century break with earlier classical music toward a more emotion-based form.
Rachmaninoff's famed Symphony No. 2 is rich in sound, filled with Russian melancholy from oboe, clarinet and violin and surprising outbursts of heavy percussion. Wagner's Prelude to Act III of Lohengrin is a fairy tale opera based on medieval tales of chivalry and the Holy Grail quest.
Wagner's music and words so enthralled the 19th century King of Bavaria that he designed and built a castle well known to contemporary Americans as the inspiration for Cinderella's castle in Disneyland. Soloist Pegis performs Dvorak's Cello Concerto in B as a conversation with the woodwinds and orchestra. Prominent in this famous piece is the use of a Bohemian folk tune that was the favorite of Dvorak's seriously ill lover, Josefina.
Based at the Clay Center in Charleston, nearly 70 year old West Virginia Symphony performs regularly throughout the state and outside its borders including the Kennedy Center. New Zealander, Grant Cooper, has been conductor of the symphony since 2001. He has performed throughout the world as a trumpet player, is a commissioned composer and holds a degree in mathematics. CD recordings of him as conductor, performer and composer are all currently available. Jolyon Pegis is the award-winning cellist with the Dallas Symphony.
"The community is working together to fulfill our part of the agreement with the Symphony," said Seager. "The high school is providing space and technical support, the Morgan Arts Council (MAC) printed the tickets and is handling all the promotional efforts and the F.A.S.T. Foundation is printing an informative program for the event," she said.
"The night before is the opening at the Ice House Gallery of the 100th Anniversary Blenko Glass exhibit which also is making its only Eastern Panhandle appearance here in Berkeley Springs," said Mary Hott, Executive Director of MAC. "It is always exciting to have such confirmation of our ranking as a top art town."
Only 300 tickets are available for the symphony performance. Tickets may be purchased at the Berkeley Springs Library, the Chamber of Commerce office/Visitors Center and the Ice House Gallery. Donations may be accepted at those locations to purchase tickets that will be made available for children. For more information call 304-258-9147.