Kelley O’Connor will perform the evocative Neruda Songs by the American composer Peter Lieberson in concerts with the Annapolis Symphony Orchestra at Maryland Hall for the Creative Arts on Friday, May 8 and Saturday, May 9, 2015 at 8pm. Music Director José-Luis Novo will also conduct the orchestra in the Manfred Overture by Robert Schumann and Symphony No. 5 by Jean Sibelius.
Grammy® Award-winning mezzo-soprano Kelley O’Connor will make her ASO debut in the final concerts of the orchestra’s 2014-15 season. This Lexus Classics Series program is titled “Schumann, Sibelius, and Neruda Songs,” and is presented with financial support from One North Wealth Services.
Adult tickets for the upcoming ASO concerts start at $35 with students admitted for $10 each (online code STUDENT). Tickets can be purchased through the ASO website at www.annapolissymphony.org, by calling 410-263-0907, or by visiting the ASO Box Office in room 204 at Maryland Hall for the Creative Arts in Annapolis, Monday through Friday, 9:00am – 5:00pm.
Possessing a voice of uncommon allure, musical sophistication far beyond her years, and intuitive and innate dramatic artistry, Ms. O’Connor has emerged as one of the most compelling performers of her generation. The California native has received unanimous international critical acclaim for her numerous performances with leading orchestras and opera companies. She has sung Lieberson’s Neruda Songs with Christoph Eschenbach and the National Symphony Orchestra, with Bernard Haitink and the Chicago Symphony Orchestra, as well as with David Zinman and the Berliner Philharmoniker and the Tonhalle-Orchester Zürich.
Neruda Songs is a setting of five beautiful and touching love poems by twentieth-century Chilean poet and diplomat Pablo Neruda. The song cycle was composed for mezzo-soprano Lorraine Hunt Lieberson and orchestra by her husband Peter Lieberson. The songs range from a sensual appreciation of the beloved and a fear of separation to a peaceful but very sad evocation: “My love, if I die and you don’t.”
Co-commissioned by the Los Angeles Philharmonic and the Boston Symphony, Neruda Songs was premiered in Los Angeles on May 20, 2005 and widely performed by Lorraine Hunt Lieberson in the year before she died of breast cancer in July 2006. Shortly after her death, Peter Lieberson himself was diagnosed with lymphoma. Kelley O’Connor began performing Neruda Songs before the composer succumbed to the disease in 2011. She joined Robert Spano and the Atlanta Symphony Orchestra for a Grammy® Award-winning Deutsche Grammophon recording of the piece that same year.
The first work on the ASO program is one of Robert Schumann’s most frequently performed orchestral works, the Manfred Overture. Adapted musically from Lord Byron’s dramatic poem, it was written in 1849 and is the opening section of a composition entitled Manfred: Dramatic Poem with Music in Three Parts. The composer called the overture “one of the finest of my brain-children.”
After intermission, the ASO will perform Symphony No. 5 by composer Jean Sibelius whose music played an important role in the formation of the Finnish national identity. Sibelius was commissioned to write this symphony in honor of his 50th birthday, which had been declared a national holiday. The symphony was originally composed in 1915. It was revised first in 1916 and then again in 1919. Sibelius commented on his revision: “I wished to give my symphony another – more human – form. More down-to-earth, more vivid.” The success of the composer’s developing structural style is reflected in the popularity of the Fifth Symphony to the present day.
All ticket holders are invited to attend a free pre-concert lecture in the auditorium at 6:45pm led by British pianist and lecturer Dr. Rachel Franklin. These entertaining talks enhance the concert experience by providing historical and insightful perspectives on the repertoire.
Funding for the ASO is generously provided by Elizabeth Richebourg Rea, Baltimore / Annapolis Lexus Dealers, the Maryland State Arts Council, Arts Council of Anne Arundel County, and Friends of the Annapolis Symphony Orchestra. These concerts are presented with the support of One North Wealth Services.
The Annapolis Symphony Orchestra features 70 professional musicians who perform a variety of symphonic music for audiences of all ages. Additionally, the non-profit organization provides educational programs through its partnerships with local schools, and various other community outreach efforts.