Looking back while moving forward is something the Virginia Symphony Orchestra often does, according to its creative director JoAnn Falletta.
“On one hand (the Virginia Symphony Orchestra is like a museum because we play music from the 17th century on, so we’re preserving that music and cherishing that music and music of past centuries,” Falletta said. “But, on the other hand, we are always playing new music too.”
So, it’s only fitting that would be the theme of the orchestra’s next concert: Classics Reborn. According to Falletta, the first and last songs of the show were composed by musicians who were inspired by older masters.
“I like the idea of a younger composer looking back at someone from the past and paying a tribute to them — saying ‘oh this is beautiful I want to use part of that,’” Falletta said.
“I like to think of it as someone re-interpreting the past — loving it but putting it in his own language.”
The first song of the night is Johannes Brahms’ “Variation on a Theme of Haydn.” Brahms, a romantic composer of the 19th century, wrote the piece based off a melody from the classical composer Joseph Haydn.
“Brahms was so inspired by these composers of the past that he borrowed a melody that he thought was Haydn’s and he based a whole piece on it,” Falletta said.
The last song of the concert is Igor Stravinsky’s “Pulcinella,” which Falletta said was inspired by the work of Giovanni Pergolesi.
“Again, he borrowed the music of Pergolesi and restructured it in his own language,” Falletta said. “And again I love the idea of looking to the past and creating something new and fresh.”
The middle of the concert strays from the theme with a performance of Mozart’s “Lovely Concerto for Flute, Harp, and Orchestra,” featuring the VSO’s principal musicians Debra Cross on flute and Barbara Chapman on harp.
Falletta said Chapman and Cross have been friends and have played together for 30 years, which adds another layer of depth to the performance.
“Whether it's at a wedding or recital or a special event (Chapman and Cross) go together musically so well,” she said.
Falletta said Mozart wrote this piece for a wealthy merchant and his daughter so the two could play the harp and flute together.
“(Mozart) must have in mind … it was going to be for father and daughter who were going to be playing together because it is filled with light and loveliness and great beauty,” Falletta said.
“The interplay between the flute part and the harp part in the music making is just so lovely,” Chapman said. “We just imitate each other, we play a duet and we imitate each other … it's just this wonderful conversation between the flute and the harp.”
In addition to the music, Falletta said she’s excited about this concert because she gets to conduct in Williamsburg again.
“Many of (the people in Williamsburg) have been going to concerts all their lives, not always in Williamsburg — but they know music, they love music, they expect the best, they are very sophisticated and they love and support the Virginia Symphony Orchestra,” Falletta said. “It's always a special pleasure for me to be there.”
Want to go?
“Classics Reborn” starts at 8 p.m. March 16, Crosswalk Community Church, 7575 Richmond Road. Tickets are $25-65 and can be purchased at tickets.virginiasymphony.org.
Heymann can be reached by phone at 757-298-5828 or on Twitter at @HeymannAmelia.