LIVINGSTON, NJ — Maestro Anthony LaGruth and the Livingston Symphony Orchestra invite local music lovers to join them on Saturday, March 5, for the “LSO Dance Mix.” The third in the orchestra’s 2015-2016 season, the concert features the rhythm, melody and stories of classical dances composed by Brahms, Copland, Gliere and Rachmaninoff, and takes the audience from the land of gypsies, to the American West, Russia and beyond. This exciting, live musical performance is at 7:30 p.m. in suburban Livingston’s Mount Pleasant Middle School Auditorium, 11 Broadlawn Drive.
A highlight of the evening, Brahms’ popular “Hungarian Dances No.’s 1 and 3” are from a group of 21 composed originally for four-hand piano, a piano duet played on one instrument. In contrast to more serious works such as symphonies and concertos, this music is written more for relaxation and diversion and is inspired by gypsy folk tunes. Brahms himself entertained his guests with these dances and later orchestrated these two dances for full orchestra. Speeding up, slowing down, shifting in melody with panache, the warmth and spirit of theses dances is truly joyful.
Brooklyn-born composer Aaron Copland, best known for forging distinctively American-style music, also makes use of folk tunes, keeping them mostly intact, in his “Four Dance Selections from Rodeo.” In this music written for ballet, Copland paints a vivid picture of cowboys and romance in the American West. Spirited melodies and rhythm abound, and the recognizable “Hoe Down,” which serves as the background music for the “Beef: It’s What’s for Dinner” commercials, demonstrates country fiddling at its best.
Nationally spirited music inspires another composer, Gliere, once again, for his “Red Poppy Ballet” in which “The Russian Sailor Dance” appears. In a story set in China, this piece celebrates of the love between a local girl and a Russian sea captain. The music starts rapidly, then slows to a rustic folk tune, and then builds in variation toward a whirling finish.
The last piece on the program is a story reflecting the life of its composer, Rachmaninoff, a pianist and conductor who is displaced from his boyhood home to study in Moscow and St. Petersburg, his country during the Bolshevik Revolution, and Europe during World War II. Rachmaninoff’s final composition, “Symphonic Dances,” is his only one composed entirely in America and also one originally intended for ballet. Beautiful themes and powerful rhythms, a folk-like tune introduced by an alto saxophone, colors from a variety of percussion instruments, a melancholy waltz and a totentanz, or death dance, all make for spectacular music.
The program is presented by a group of dedicated professional level musicians led by a charismatic conductor in his debut season with the orchestra. Tickets are charged. For more information, visit www.lsonj.org or call 973-980-1809.