I have been to the Palace Theater several times for concerts, comedy shows and variety programs like Santana, Joan Armatrading, UB40, Larry the Cable Guy, Seinfeld and Blues Clues! Yet, I had not yet experienced the Albany Symphony Orchestra. For ten years, I was a serious musician – flute and piccolo were my instruments of choice. I competed at grade six level competitions primarily through the NYSSMA programs in western New York and performed in the Williamsville North Wind Ensemble for four years so I do appreciate classical music.
The night I went to the see the Albany Symphony Orchestra they were performing Scheherazade. This story of love dates back to the Persian Empire and the Arabian Nights. As the legend would have it, the Sultan was convinced that all women were faithless so he would marry a woman then execute her after the wedding night. Scheherazade was one of these women – who, on her fateful night entertained the Sultan with enchanting and suspenseful stories -the conclusion of each story left unrevealed until the next evening. This perpetuated for a thousand and one nights whereby Scheherazade saved her life. At the end of 1001 nights – the Sultan could not help but fall in love and her life was thusly spared.
This story was transformed by the Russian composer Nikolai Rimsky-Korsakov into a symphonic suite of four movements in 1889. The highlight of the first half was Simone Porter, the featured soloist performing Samuel Barber, “Violin Concerto”. The program lists Porter as fifteen years old, hometown of Seattle, Washington. Porter has performed all over the world and on this evening wore a striking turquoise gown that was in stark contrast to the black concert attire of the symphony. The world class expertise and quality that can be experienced in the Capital Region never ceases to amaze me.
Following the intermission, the Albany Symphony Orchestra performed the first movement. The recognition of nineteenth century Russian composition was unmistakable. The story of Scheherazade was transformed into this beautiful rich sound filing the historic auditorium. Every instrument was showcased with a solo. The performance was spectacular!
The Albany Symphony Orchestra is the only professional symphony orchestra based within the Capital Region, engaging over 150,000 people each year across an extended geographical area. Tickets for the 2014-15 season are available now. Click here for details: http://www.albanysymphony.com/concerts_and_tickets/2014_15_season.