The Williams College Department of Music presents the Berkshire Symphony conducted by Ronald Feldman on Friday, Nov. 22 at 8 p.m. in Chapin Hall. Mr. Feldman will give a pre-concert talk at 7:15pm in Brooks-Rogers Recital Hall, adjacent to Chapin Hall. These events are free and open the public.
The Berkshire Symphony, which is made up of both Williams students and professional musicians, has long championed 20th century works and American composers. The evening’s concert includes works by Michael Torke, Maurice Ravel, and Johannes Brahms.
The music of Michael Torke has been called “some of the most optimistic, joyful and thoroughly uplifting music to appear in recent years” (Gramophone). Hailed as “a master orchestrator whose shimmering timbral palette makes him the Ravel of his generation” (The New York Times), Michael Torke has created a substantial body of works in virtually every genre, each with a personal stamp that combines rhythmic energy with beautiful melodies.
One of Torke’s most frequently performed orchestral pieces is Javelin (1994), a “sonic olympiad” commissioned by the Atlanta Committee for the Olympics in celebration of the Atlanta Symphony Orchestra’s 50th anniversary season.
Providing a contrast to Torke’s triumphal joy, Maurice Ravel’s Le Tombeau de Couperin pays tribute to Ravel’s friends who had perished in the First World War. Both Torke and Ravel paint vividly. Using similar palettes, Torke’s exuberance contrasts with Ravel’s anguish providing the first half of the concert with tantalizing comparisons.
Closing the program is Johannes Brahms’ Symphony No. 4 in E minor, op. 98. According to “The New Grove Dictionary of Music,” this beloved work “represents the summit of Brahms’s achievement in the genre.”
About Ronald Feldman
Since joining the Boston Symphony Orchestra’s cello section at the age of 19, Ronald Feldman has received critical acclaim for a wide variety of musical achievements. Increasingly in demand as a conductor, Mr. Feldman was appointed assistant to Boston Pops conductor John Williams in 1989, a position he held until 1993. As conductor Mr. Feldman has appeared with the Rochester Philharmonic, the Quebec Symphony, the Springfield Symphony, the Saint Louis Symphony, the George Enescu Chamber Orchestra, the National Symphony of Costa Rica, the Landmarks Orchestra, and the London Symphony Orchestra. Mr. Feldman has appeared as cello soloist with many orchestras performing a wide range of concerto repertoire from Dvorak to Ligeti. His many chamber music affiliations have included performances with the Boston Symphony Chamber Players, Collage New Music Ensemble, the Boston Conservatory Chamber Players, and the Williams College Chamber Players. His performances include collaborations with artists Emanuel Ax, Garrick Ohlsson, Gil Shaham, Christian Tetzlaff, and Yo Yo Ma. He is on the faculties of Williams College, Berklee College of Music, and The New England Conservatory. Born in Brooklyn, NY and a graduate of Boston University, Mr. Feldman’s teachers have included, Joseph Emonts, Claus Adam, Lorne Monroe, John Sant’Ambrogio, and Harvey Shapiro. In September 2001, Mr. Feldman joined the faculty of Williams College as Artist in Residence and Director of the Berkshire Symphony, ending a distinguished career with the Boston Symphony Orchestra.
About the Berkshire Symphony
A very special orchestra, the Berkshire Symphony offers an extraordinary opportunity for both student and professional musicians, as well as the audience. By pairing students with their teachers and mentors throughout the rehearsal period, and throughout the season, Williams students are exposed to a level of professionalism and discipline that is rare in an educational setting. At the same time, the students’ infectious enthusiasm contributes to the Berkshire Symphony’s remarkable energy and rich sound. This makes the Berkshire Symphony unique and very exciting.