Arts and Entertainment

Bremerton Symphony strikes up an emotional score

Conductor Elizabeth Stoyanovich enters her fourth season at the head of the Bremerton Symphony with an opening of Brahms and Bethoven tonight. - Courtesy photo
Conductor Elizabeth Stoyanovich enters her fourth season at the head of the Bremerton Symphony with an opening of Brahms and Bethoven tonight.
— image credit: Courtesy photo

The Bremerton Symphony Orchestra is striking up its 65th season this evening with a tribute to friends and false idols, or rather “For Friends and Lost Heroes” as it is billed.

That thought in itself is an interesting comparison. In orchestra it is intense.

Beethoven’s Symphony No. 3, “Eroica” will stand for a hero lost in the abyss of personal ambition.

While the friendship side of the evening will be represented by Brahms’ “Violin Concerto” for which esteemed Emerald City violinist, Seattle Symphony associate concertmaster Simon James will be featured soloist.

Fittingly, in addition to his work with the Seattle Symphony and the Seattle Violin Virtuosi Foundation, he’s also a comrade of the Bremerton Symphony through its conductor.

“This is my first time playing with the orchestra,” James said. “My connection with the Bremerton Symphony is with (conductor) Elizabeth Stoyanovich ... we go back from both having kids who play in the Seattle Youth Symphony.”

Stoyanovich is the architect behind the “Friends and Lost Heroes” and symphony’s 65th season. She said the stories behind each respective piece are telling of how the pair came together for the opener.

Prior to the concert at around 7 p.m. tonight, Stoyanovich and the symphony will hold a preconcert chat, explaining a bit of the composers’ backgrounds some of the inner details of the music.

Sonically, they are both esteemed classical masterpieces written by two of the greatest composers of their generation. They are a match of elegance and avant-garde on the technical level, and a composite of love, respect and resentment on a sentimental score.

“This is two masterpieces, two extremely significant pieces together,” James noted. “I think they’ve become extremely popular, first off because of sheer beauty and also the weight of emotion in both pieces.”

James was given a Library of Congress published copy of Brahms’ violin concerto manuscript by a good friend.

The fervent tenor of the Brahms concerto, he said, is evident in the red notes that cover the composer’s manuscript, written by a friend, 19th century violinist Joeseph Joachim, for whom the piece was dedicated.

“Every good composer asks instrumentalists how to write for their instruments,” James said. “But it’s very interesting to see how Joachim really influenced the way this piece was put together.”

When it was first premiered (by Joachim in 1879 Germany), Brahms’ then-uncoventional concerto was called “unplayable” and written rather “against the violin.” Perhaps those critics were simply overwhelmed by its uniqueness. Joachim stood by the piece and now the “Violin Concerto” is viewed by many as one of the most important works in the violin’s repertoire.

“It is certainly an extremely difficult piece ... how do you approach something that’s the pinnacle,” James said in response to playing the “unplayable” concerto. “It’s hard to describe, but it’s kind of like the Mona Lisa of violin playing.”

With that thought in mind, Beethoven’s 3rd Symphony is kind of like the Monet of the Romantic period in music. Just as Monet was a pioneer of artistic impressionism, Beethoven’s emotional “Eroica” is considered a pioneer of the Romantic era which is marked by a revolution of feeling and intuition.

Beethoven, a German composer, originally dedicated the work to Napoleon Bonaparte for the similar “romantic” ideals held within the French Revolution which the militant embodied. But once Bonaparte crowned himself Emperor of the French in 1804, the composer was so disgusted that he scratched Bonaparte’s name off the score so violently that it created a hole in the page. Thus creating the “Lost hero.”

Beethoven went on to title the symphony “heroic symphony, composed to celebrate the memory of grate man” according to biographer Ferdinand Ries, but it became known simply as “Eroica” or “Heroic.”

The Bremerton Symphony Orchestra will be orchestrally combining Beethoven’s third “Eroica” with Brahms’ “Violin Concerto” at 7:30 p.m. at the Bremerton High School Performing Arts Center at 1500 13th St. in Bremerton. Tickets are $24 adults in advance, $26 at the door and $10 for kids. Info: www.bremertonsymphony.org or call (360) 373-1722.

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