BEETHOVEN IN THE BADLANDS
Calgary Philharmonic Orchestra
Saturday, June 10
Canadian Badlands Passion Play Site (Drumheller)
"Get there early," advise three veterans of Beethoven in the Badlands, which will hold its third annual event in Drumheller on June 10. The opinion is based on their experiences amid growing crowds and spectacular scenery, strollers and wheelchairs, artisans booths and pre-event entertainment.
Lynette Pittman and her husband lived a robust outdoor life until his stroke, so they embrace any outdoor activity that can accommodate his powered wheelchair. "Weve been delighted with the variety, the range and depth of the orchestra. They go out of their way to make it accessible for everyone. Were impressed and were really privileged to get to know the Calgary Philharmonic Orchestra."
Regular CPO patron Dianne Parkinson-McCabe says the scenery and the music are what entice her. "This year we are coming back a different way to do some touring. You have to be prepared from hour to hour in this province. Bring water. Bring sunscreen and an umbrella."
Guest conductor Rosemary Thomson says "the elements that create the challenges also create the special effect. To hear this beautiful, very dramatic music of Beethoven in such grandeur, this dramatic setting, just enhances the music."
Thomson has chosen the very apropos Beethovens triumphant Symphony No. 5 in celebration of the CPOs 50th anniversary. "Everyone knows the opening that knock of fate on the door. But to me, the piece in its entirety is as triumphant. Its like yearning. He takes those first four notes and tosses them around all over the place. Hes searching for something.
"The second movement is more subdued, and goes on a journey. Then the third movement comes to a mysterious, total standstill, like going into the fog. Its fantastically evocative music, and out of that comes this incredible triumphant moment when he goes into C major. It comes right out at you and you cant help but be swept up by it."
The concert will begin with Beethovens Egmont Overture, written in honour of the martyr of oppressed peoples. The first movement, based on a Spanish dance, depicts the Spanish invaders. Even though Egmont died, his life was a triumph over repression Goethe wrote a play for which Beethoven wrote this powerful piece.
Next is Exoptare (Yearning), a new piece by composer Arthur M. Bachmann, who is also a member of the orchestra. "It has this quality of continuous rhythm, like a motor that keeps going and going. Over that, he has sweeping phrases, long upward phrases like questions. I think it fits the Beethoven very well. You need music of really strong character."
Thomson will teach the audience to sing along with the familiar music of "Va' pensiero sull'ali dorate," commonly referred to as the Hebrew Slave Chorus from the Verdi opera Nabucco. "The slave chorus became the unofficial national patriot hymn for the Italian people," she says. "Its a great example of the power of music, and it fits so well with this theme."
The orchestra will also play another Verdi, "Forces of Destiny," and a second singalong with "Dream the Impossible Dream" from Man of La Mancha.