Experience love in myriad forms in “Debussy’s ‘La Mer’,” Feb. 19 & 20
February 10, 2016
Grand Rapids Symphony
616.454.9451 x 139
Love in myriad forms is the undercurrent for the
Grand Rapids Symphony’s “Debussy’s ‘La Mer’,” at 8 p.m. Friday and Saturday,
Feb. 19-20 in DeVos Performance Hall.
composer Claude Debussy maintained a lifelong passion for “The Sea.” The never-married
Johannes Brahms’ prized his personal freedom even as he composed one of the
most ravishing melodies of his career in his Symphony No. 3. American composer
Peter Lieberson cherished his wife, mezzo soprano Lorraine Hunt, who sang the
debut of his “Neruda Songs” shortly before her death in 2006 from complications
concerts in the Richard and Helen DeVos Classical Series welcome Venezuelan
conductor Carlos Izcaray, the sixth guest conductor of the 2015-16 season to
DeVos Performance Hall. Izcaray, music director of the Alabama Symphony
Orchestra and one of eight candidates to become the next music director of the
Grand Rapids Symphony, leads the orchestra in Debussy’s evocative symphonic
sketch plus Brahms’ Symphony No. 3.
mezzo soprano Katherine Pracht will join Izcaray and your Grand Rapids Symphony
as vocalist for the performance of Lieberson’s “Nerudu Songs,” set to the
poetry of Pablo Neruda. Guest artist support for Pracht’s appearance is
provided by the Edith I. Blodgett Guest Artist Fund.
who as a child dreamed of becoming a sailor, had a life-long passion for the
sea. To listen to “La Mer” is to experience with your ears what it’s like for
your eyes to look upon an Impressionist painting. The three-movement work, with
subtitles including “Play of the Waves,” doesn’t tell a story. Rather, the
French composer paints tonal colors, focusing your attention here and there for
a sonic experience of the wind and waves.
The Nine Inch Nails song, “La Mer,” is
inspired by Debussy’s 23-minute work. Some say that the third movement of “La
Mer” also appears to have inspired John Williams in his score for the 1975 film
leading Viennese critic dubbed Brahms’ First Symphony as “Beethoven’s 10th,”
anointing the German composer as Beethoven’s successor. When Brahms’ Third
Symphony debuted in 1883, critic Hans Richter took it one step further,
referring to it as Brahms’ “Eroica” Symphony, a nod to Beethoven’s “Eroica”
Symphony No. 3.
reality, Brahms set out on a different journey than Beethoven did with his
“Heroic” Symphony. Brahms’ Third uses a three-note motive, F-A-F, which some
say represents a personal motto of the composer, “Frei aber froh” or “Free but happy.” The symphony begins with a
powerful statement of the motive, but it ends with a mere whisper of it. In
between is a symphonic journey of melodic directness and harmonic craftsmanship
that are a hallmark of Brahms’ music.
The haunting poco allegretto theme in
the third movement of Brahms’ Symphony No. 3 has since taken on a life of its
own. Frank Sinatra’s “Take My Love,” a song he recorded and co-wrote in 1951,
The soulful melody appears in the
opening credits and in subsequent scenes in the 1946 film noir, “Undercurrent,”
starring Katharine Hepburn. The 1961 film “Goodbye Again,” starring Ingrid
Bergman, uses it throughout the score as well as in the song, “Say No More,
It’s Goodbye,” sung in the film by night club singer Diahann Carroll.
a practitioner of Tibetan Buddhism who died in 2011, was inspired by the love
of his life, Lorraine Hunt, a professional opera singer, who the composer
recalled had a natural, intuitive ability to embody words and express emotions on stage.
Lieberson by chance first came upon a book of love poems by Neruda, he
immediately thought of his wife. Each of the five songs in the cycle expresses
a different face of love.
so grateful for Neruda’s beautiful poetry,” Lieberson once said about the work.
“For although these poems were written to another, when I set them, I was speaking
directly to my own beloved Lorraine.”
Upbeat, a free, pre-concert, multi-media
presentation, with guest conductor Carlos Izcaray, will be held before each
performance at 7 p.m. in the DeVos Place Recital Hall. Upbeat is sponsored by
“Debussy’s La Mer” will be rebroadcast
on Sunday, May 1 at 1 p.m. on Blue Lake Public Radio 88.9 FM or 90.3 FM.
Tickets start at $18 and are available at the Symphony office, weekdays 9 a.m.
to 5 p.m., 300 Ottawa NW, Suite 100, (located across from the Calder Plaza), or
by calling 616.454.9451 x 4. (Phone orders will be charged a $2 per ticket
service fee, with a $12 maximum.) Tickets are available at the DeVos Place Box
Office, weekdays 10 a.m. to 6 p.m., or on the day of the concert beginning two
hours prior to the performance. Tickets may also be purchased through
Ticketmaster, 800.982.2787, online at GRSymphony.org or in person at
Ticketmaster outlets: select D&W Fresh Markets, Family Fare Stores and
Walmart. Tickets purchased at these locations will include a Ticketmaster
service fee. Full-time
students of any age are able to purchase tickets for only $5 on the night of
the concert by enrolling in the Symphony’s Student Passport program. This is a
MySymphony360 eligible concert.
About the Grand Rapids Symphony
The Grand Rapids Symphony was officially organized in 1930 and is nationally
recognized for the quality of its concerts and educational programs. Led by
Music Advisor Larry Rachleff, Principal Pops Conductor Bob Bernhardt and
Associate Conductor John Varineau, eight concert series plus special events are
presented, featuring a wide range of musical styles.
than 400 performances are presented each year, touching the lives of some
200,000 people. Nearly half of those are students, senior citizens and people
with disabilities, reached through extensive education and community service
programs. The Symphony’s affiliated organizations include the Grand Rapids Bach
Festival, Grand Rapids Symphony Chorus, Grand Rapids Youth Symphony and
Classical Orchestra, and Grand Rapids Symphony Youth Choruses. The GRS also
provides the orchestra for Opera Grand Rapids and the Grand Rapids Ballet.
activity is supported in part by an award from the Michigan Council for Arts
and Cultural Affairs and the National Endowment for the Arts.