The Williams College Department of Music presents the Berkshire Symphony on Friday, March 2 at 8 p.m. in Chapin Hall on the Williams College campus. This free event is open to the public.
Returning to Chapin Hall, the orchestra presents a program titled, Out of the Shadows. From Mozart to Beethoven and Beethoven to Brahms, each composer must struggle with a legacy and emerge from the shadow of predecessors to find a personal voice. The program opens with an overture from Ludwig van Beethoven’s only opera, Fidelio. This opera has four overtures associated with it and the Fidelio Overture op.72c has become one of Beethoven’s signature works. Composed in 1814, the piece was the culmination of a long and difficult creative process.
Even longer in the making was the Symphony No. 1 by Johannes Brahms. No less a perfectionist, he worked in the shadow of his musical predecessor, Beethoven. Brahms labored long and hard to present the world with a symphony that would live up to a work of Beethoven. Scholars generally agree that Brahms began the composition in 1862, finishing it in 1876, though he did make revisions for years after this date. The symphony lives on today as an pillar of the classical canon.
The Bassoon Concerto, K. 191 in B-flat Major by Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart is one of the best known works for that instrument. Written by Mozart when he was eighteen, it is still one of the benchmarks by which bassoonists measure themselves. Joining the Berkshire Symphony as a soloist is Judith LeClair, principal bassoonist (The Pels Family Chair) in the New York Philharmonic. Joining that orchestra in 1981, at the age of 23, she has since made more than fifty solo appearances with the orchestra. She also performs as a member of the Philharmonic Woodwind Quintet of New York. Among her many accomplishments and appearances, she premiered The Five Sacred Trees, a concerto written for her by John Williams and commissioned by the New York Philharmonic as part of its 150th Anniversary celebration. Her recording of the piece with the London Symphony Orchestra and her solo New York Legends CD for Cala Records were released in 1997. Ms LeClair is on the faculty of The Juilliard School.
The Berkshire Symphony is a 75-member symphonic orchestra comprising, in roughly equal proportions, Williams College music students, Williams music faculty, and musicians from regional orchestras such as the Albany, Springfield, and Hartford Symphonies.