April 1, 2016
Soundscape San Diego: Russian Remembrance

La Jolla, Calif. (April 1, 2016) — The La Jolla Symphony & Chorus (LJS&C) presents the fifth concert of its 61st season, Soundscape San Diego. Guest Conductor Rodrigo Ruiz leads the orchestra and guest artist Andrea Fortier, Viola, in a fiery program featuring Shostakovich’s  Symphony No. 9, Bartók’s "Viola Concerto", and Tchikovsky’s Symphony No. 4.

Dmitri Shostakovich wrote his Symphony No. 9 in E-flat Major, Opus 70 in the summer of 1945, only months after the defeat of Nazi Germany. His two wartime symphonies, the Seventh and Eighth, had been huge, heroic works, and it was widely expected that Shostakovich would complete the trilogy with a Victory Symphony. But when first performed in Leningrad on November 3, 1945, Shostakovich’s Ninth came as a surprise, for the music seemed defiantly anti-heroic. During the six weeks it took Shostakovich to write this work, he and composer Dmitri Kabalevsky, had relaxed each evening by playing piano versions of Haydn’s symphonies, which influenced his Ninth Symphony. Shostakovich himself said, “It is a merry little piece. Musicians will love to play it, and critics will delight in blasting it.”

Béla Bartók wrote his Viola Concerto also in 1945. However, he took it on amidst two other projects at the same time, something he rarely did. These works turned out to be his last, as he died of leukemia on September 26th of that year. The concerto was only completed in draft form, yet to be orchestrated. After Bartók’s death, his friend and colleague Tibor Serly took on the responsibility to complete it. The manuscript, which consisted of thirteen pages of sketches, was discovered in a chaotic state and Bartók had made revisions and corrections by simply writing over existing text. Serly, himself a violist and a composer, had to make a number of compositional decisions of his own, and the published Viola Concerto bears the note: “Posthumous work prepared for publication by Tibor Serly.”

Peter Ilyich Tchaikovsky’s Fourth Symphony dates from the most tumultuous period in the composer’s life. He began work on it in May 1877, after several years of torment by the secret of his homosexuality; as he worked on the score he was pursued by a female student whom he eventually married in hopes of having a “normal” life with a wife and children. The marriage was a disaster that led to mental instability. Eventual solitude in Italy allowed him to find peace and complete the work. Thus, this symphony has all of Tchaikovsky’s beloved traits of great melodies and colorful climaxes, but fused with dramatic emotions.

Rodrigo Ruiz has conducted an international array of orchestras including the Berliner Sinfonietta, Mexican Orchestra of the Arts, and Symphony Orchestra of University of São Paulo, to name a few. 2014 Young Artists Competition winner Andrea Fortier has been principal violist of the San Diego Youth Symphony and also a recipient of a 2014 Musical Merit Foundation award; she currently studies viola at Juilliard.

The performances take place April 30-May 1, 2016 in Mandeville Auditorium at UCSD. Concert times are 7:30 p.m. on Saturday and 2:00 p.m. on Sunday. Individual tickets are $29 general, $27 senior, and $15 student. Group discounts are available. Parking is free. A pre-concert lecture is offered one hour prior to concert times. To purchase tickets or for more information, call the LJS&C office at (858) 534-4637.

The La Jolla Symphony & Chorus, San Diego’s oldest and largest community orchestra and chorus, is a non-profit musical performing group dedicated to inspiring San Diego with the joy of music. Its 110-person orchestra and 130-person chorus perform groundbreaking orchestral and choral music along with traditional favorites from the classical repertoire. During the 61st season, maestro Steven Schick shares the podium with David Chase, LJS&C choral director, and guest conductor Rodrigo Ruiz, performing works by Barber, Bartok, Copland, Glass, Hindemith, Ligeti, several of the great Russian composers, and more.