IOWA CITY– Beethoven’s ever-popular Symphony No. 6 Pastorale will be performed when William LaRue Jones conducts the University of Iowa Symphony Orchestra in a free concert featuring faculty string bass player Volkan Orhon at 7:30 p.m. Wednesday, Oct. 26, in the Main Lounge of the Iowa Memorial Union.
The other works on the program will be Essay for Orchestra No. 1, Op. 12, by American composer Samuel Barber, and Nino Rota’s Divertimento Concertante for double bass and orchestra, featuring Orhon.
“Nino Rota wrote the Divertimento Concertante for an Italian virtuosi Francesco Petracchi with whom I studied in Italy more than two decades ago,” Orhon explains. “He gave me the music to learn but I never got a chance to perform it all these years. When Prof. Jones asked me to play something original, this piece came to mind. It is a fairly new piece that is becoming more popular in the bass world.”
Rota is best known for his film scores for Fellini, Visconti, Zeffirelli, and Coppola, including an Oscar for the score of the second Godfather film. But he was also an academic and a prolific composer of operas, ballets, orchestral and choral works, and chamber music.
The picturesque Pastorale, completed in 1808 and composed simultaneously with the dramatic Erioca, is the only Beethoven symphony with explicitly programmatic content -- the music portrays an excursion in the countryside, complete with bird songs and a vividly-painted thunderstorm. Generations of film-goers now associate the work with the mythological sequence in Disney’s Fantasia, for which its programmatic imagery was a “natural” fit.
Two-time Pulitzer Prize-winner Barber has remained one of the most popular American classical composers through his “Adagio for Strings,” which was premiered by Arturo Toscanini and the NBC Orchestra on the same concert that introduced the lyrical first Essay for Orchestra.