The official plug for our program goes like this—it “…spans the range and hits so many points in between - Beethoven’s fierce drama, Vivaldi’s elegant whimsy and the utter tranquility of Vaughan Williams’ lyric pastorale with Jinjoo Cho, soloist. The magnificent Fifth Symphony of Jean Sibelius continues the journey, which never ends, but certainly comes to a resounding arrival!”
This is all true, but here’s what it really feels like: Beethoven’s fierce drama, "Egmont Overture," pounds like a pulse. When I was a kid, my parents would take me to town parades, and as the marching band rounded the corner, and the bass drums emphasized each foot fall, I could actually feel it in my heart. The Overture does that.
Vivaldi’s whimsy, "Autumn Concerto" from The Four Seasons, is elegant, but it’s also so earthy you feel like an 18th-century harvester fresh from the fields with donkey-pulled carts piled high with the season’s crops. You’ve still got dirt under your nails, and you’re so pleased with the prospects of a fine winter that you join with your fellow farmers for a big feast—eating, drinking, dreaming, laughing, dancing, hunting, thanksgiving.
Vaughan Williams’ pastorale, "The Lark Ascending," is lyrical to be sure, but it’s one song that makes you feel as if you’re actually soaring, as if you’re the one completely untethered from the ground and are riding on waves of air. All you have to do is close your eyes and listen.
And Sibelius’ Symphony No. 5. Well, that’s a journey that’s hard to describe. Here’s a piece of music written under duress yet it captures some of the most beautiful and encouraging emotions known to humankind. When it opens, I imagine a sunrise—you’ll hear that in the horn line’s first phrases—and it moves from optimism toward gloom and back to pure determination. And isn’t that how we all face each and every day, looking forward and then being disappointed and then putting our shoulders back and one foot in front of the other, aiming for better results? The second movement is a bit of relief from that up-and-down row we hoe—it’s like a scene from a tense movie when you’re finally allowed to exhale and let go of your tight grip from the armchair.
And in the third movement, you take flight with swans like you’re conquering the world, leaving behind the trials Sibelius fought—hunger, sickness, war, seclusion, fear—and trade it all in for something more than survival. You actually triumph.
When you take your seat in the hall at the Performing Arts Center on Saturday evening, you can just be merely present and hear the notes the orchestra plays. Or you can be actually present and feel all of these things. And when you stand up to go home, you’ll have experienced a lifetime’s worth of emotion in about two hours. And that’s why I think you should attend Saturday’s concert.
Is it expensive? Well, that’s a difficult question to answer because “expensive” is relative. But look at it this way—a ticket to an OSU football game will cost you $70 if you can even get one. Cheap seats for a Browns game run about $20, but prime seats that don’t require binoculars are closer to $150. Seats in the orchestra section for a Cleveland Orchestra concert will cost you $89.
The most you’ll pay for a ticket to a Tuscarawas Philharmonic concert is $32, and tickets are available for as little as $9.
So, not only can you experience life through music, but you can do it at a real bargain. See you there, and while you’re waiting for Saturday to arrive, preview the Sibelius symphony here as performed by the London Philharmonic Orchestra, and tell me you aren’t ready to conquer the world.