The Alexandria Symphony Orchestra will present a fresh take on chamber music with Bach, Brandenburgers & Brews on Friday, January 11, 2019 at 7:30 p.m. at St. Paul’s Episcopal Church in Alexandria. Under the direction of new Music Director James Ross, members of the orchestra will present three Brandenburg Concertos, featuring soloists who regularly perform as principals with the ASO.
Bach dedicated the six Brandenburg Concertos in 1721 to Christian Ludwig-Margrave of Brandenburg, and they have since been regarded as some of the finest orchestral compositions of the Baroque era. Following an Italian concerto grosso style, the Brandenburg Concertos combine solo instruments for each concerto, accompanied by the other players, called the ripieno. Concerto No. 2 in F major features a trumpet, oboe and violin while Concerto No. 4 in G major presents a violin and two flutes; Concerto No. 5 in D major combines a harpsichord, violin and flute.
“Given the popularity of the Brandenburg Concerti among lots of people, the idea of presenting this joyous music in one of Alexandria’s historic churches grabbed my imagination,” comments Maestro Ross. “For our players, it is a chance to touch a kind of music that has rarely been presented in ASO programming. This will also be a very different experience for the audience, and I’ll invite attendees to participate with a surprise element during the concert.”
Immediately following the performance, the audience is invited to a reception serving “Alexander Brandenburgers” specially created for the occasion, craft beer and German delicacies. The vibe is casual, and all ages are welcome.
As part of its subscription series, the ASO will present the grandest of the concertos, Brandenburg Concerto No. 1, on Saturday, February 9, 2019 at 8:00 p.m. (Rachel M. Schlesinger Concert Hall and Arts Center) and Sunday, February 10, 2019 at 3:00 p.m. (George Washington Masonic Memorial).
“The audience can experience Bach in three spaces, from the most intimate at St. Paul’s, a concert-in-the-round at the Masonic Memorial, and the full concert hall at Schlesinger,” relates Ross. “The February performances start a cross-era conversation between the old and new—between Bach’s 300-year-old chamber concerto and Stravinsky’s Dumbarton Oaks Concerto, while inspired by the Brandenburgs, it’s filtered through a 20th-century harmonic prism.” The Dumbarton Oaks Concerto earned its name from the historic estate in the District of Columbia, whose owner commissioned the work in 1937.
The second half of February’s programs continues the conversation between old and new, this time exploring the form of a symphony. Prokofiev’s Symphony No. 1 (nicknamed “Classical”) is a tongue-in-cheek reference to convention while Mozart’s Symphony No. 38 or “Prague” is forward-thinking— composed in three instead of four movements with elaborate passages for winds and brass.
“Where Prokofiev makes fun of the classical form, Mozart blurs the boundaries between symphony and opera,” observes Ross. “The middle movement of the Prague Symphony is Mozart’s single greatest orchestral andante, just crying out for operatic text setting. These concerts showcase the immense range of the musicians of the Alexandria Symphony Orchestra, as featured soloists and through many styles.”
For more information and to purchase tickets, please call 703-548-0885 or visit www.alexsym.org.