Purdue Orchestra ‘dances’ with Nutcracker and Swan Lake
If you go to sleep with visions of Christmas bills dancing through your dreams, it’s possible to exchange them for sugarplums when the Purdue Symphony Orchestra performs Tchaikovsky’s “Nutcracker Suite” on Sunday, Dec. 14.
The 2:30 p.m. concert at the Long Center, 111 N. Sixth St., Lafayette, is part of the symphony’s “Classical Treasures: The Dance.”
No matter how many times people have heard “The Nutcracker” themes, its magic just continues to happen, especially during the holidays,” says orchestra conductor Jay Gephart.
“The story is such a sweet story but beyond that the music is so magical. It’s very easy to imagine all the wonderful things depicted in the ballet,” he adds.
The Suite, which includes all the character dances as well as the famous “Waltz of the Flowers,” contains “the most memorable parts of the ballet,” Gephart says. “The character dances are very tuneful and they’re what folks leave the theater remembering.” Each of the dances will feature individual or section solos on different instruments including the celeste, bass clarinet, flutes and horns.
“What continually amazes me is how the children in the audience come alive (when they hear the Nutcracker). Watching them brings it to life and makes it a whole new experience,” says Gephart. “And the Purdue students love playing ‘Nutcracker.” It doesn’t seem to have lost the magic for them either.”
“Swan Lake” may not have Christmas ties, but its waltz also ranks as a favorite orchestral dance work. Despite “Swan Lake’s” familiarity, most of the members of Purdue’s orchestra have never performed it before, Gephart says, and “they approach it with a certain level of energy because it is new to them.”
“Swan Lake” boasts a level of complexity that goes beyond “The Nutcracker.” “Tchaikovsky’s writing in ‘Swan Lake’ is more mature and the brass likes it because it asks much more of them,” Gephart adds.
The concert of classical dance works concludes with Polka and Fugue from “Shvanda,” an opera by Jaromir Weinberger. The orchestra does not turn into a polka band for the piece, instead delivering a polka in a more classical style. Serving as counterpoint to the polka’s liveliness is the fugue “which is as complex as any written by Bach,” Gephart says. The organ enters at the work’s finale. “It’s real powerful as Weinberger brings both the polka and fugue themes together,” says Gephart.
The Dance” brings the Fall 2003 concerts to a close for the Purdue
Symphony Orchestra. The ensemble’s next concert will be Feb. 22
at the Long Center. The orchestra will also perform at the Hilbert Circle
Theatre in Indianapolis on Sunday, April 4. For more information call
(765) 496-6785 or visit www.purdue.edu/BANDS