May 3, 2011

RPO Concert Features Unique Instruments for Music of Mozart and Bruckner

This weekend, Christopher Seaman leads the Rochester Philharmonic Orchestra in two magnificent works. On Thursday, May 5 at 7:30 pm and Saturday, May 7 at 8:00 pm, Principal Clarinet Kenneth Grant (The Robert J. Strasenburgh Chair) will take center stage at Kodak Hall in Eastman Theatre for a performance of one of Mozart's most popular compositions, his lyrical Clarinet Concerto. Then, the RPO will perform Bruckner's colorful and expansive Symphony No. 7.

At Thursday night's concert, the RPO will honor local teachers with the annual RPO Musicians' Awards for Outstanding Music Educators. Click here to read more. Plus, you will have the opportunity to buy an Eastman Theatre book for $65 at the concert Thursday or Saturday, and Christopher Seaman and author Betsy Brayer will autograph it for you after the concert! Use this link to find out more about this special book.

Kenneth Grant's performance of the Mozart Clarinet Concerto will be extra special this weekend, because Grant will be playing a special clarinet with an interesting history. As Christopher Seaman describes, "Mozart wrote this for an instrument called the basset clarinet, which has a range one-third lower than the regular clarinet. So if the piece is played on the regular clarinet, passages using those lowest four notes of the instrument have to be changed. But Kenny will use a basset clarinet, so we'll hear what Mozart actually wrote. The basset clarinet was considered to be extinct until recent years, when it has gone back into production."

Although the basset clarinet has only recently been rediscovered, Christopher has first-hand experience conducting this obscure instrument, and a special connection to the Mozart Clarinet Concerto. "I conducted the world premiere of the original version of the piece, played on a specially constructed basset clarinet by the English clarinetist Alan Hacker," Seaman says. "It was the very first week of my very first conducting job!"

Often called a "cathedral in sound," Bruckner's Symphony No. 7 is a magnificent piece that will give you the opportunity to see and hear another rare instrument—the Wagner tuba. Originally created for Richard Wagner's "Ring" operas, the Wagner tuba produces a sound that falls between the traditional orchestral horn and tuba. Bruckner's orchestration calls for four of these special brass instruments.

Come to Kodak Hall at Eastman Theatre this weekend to experience the full splendor of Mozart's Clarinet Concerto and Bruckner's Symphony No. 7, and to hear these extraordinary works as they were meant to be heard—live, unaltered, and performed by top-notch musicians.

Tickets start at $15 and can be purchased by calling 454-2100, or by clicking here.

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