The Peterborough Symphony Orchestra welcomes the public back to the Showplace Performance Center on November 5

At its season-opening concert at the Showplace Performance Center in downtown Peterborough on November 5, 2022, the Peterborough Symphony Orchestra will perform Beethoven’s Fifth Symphony, Rossini’s La Cenerentola Overture and “Between the Earth and Forever” by Kevin Lau with guest soloist Snow Bai on the erhu. (collage kawarthaNOW)

What do a songbird, a fairy tale and Canada’s first spacewalk have in common? They are all sources of inspiration for three composers whose works will be presented at the Peterborough Symphony Orchestra‘s ‘Welcome Back’ concert on Saturday November 5 at the Showplace Performance Center in Peterborough.

The orchestra‘s first concert of its 2022-23 season will include performances of Beethoven’s Fifth Symphony, Rossini’s overture The Cenerentolaand that of Kevin Lau Between earth and eternity with guest soloist Snow Bai on the erhu.

German composer and pianist Ludwig van Beethoven Symphony No. 5 in C minor op. 67 begins with the four most famous notes in the history of music. Created in 1808 when Beethoven was 38, the composition’s iconic “Da-da-da-DUM” has appeared frequently in popular culture from television to film, including the disco arrangement “A Fifth of Beethoven” by Walter Murphy on the soundtrack of the 1977 dance film. Saturday night fever.

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While this famous four-note motif has sometimes been credited with symbolic significance as a representation of “fate knocking at the door”, there is also the (perhaps apocryphal) story that Beethoven was inspired by the song of a Viennese yellow hammer songbird.

Composition by Italian composer Gioachino Rossini La Cenerentola, ossia La bonta in trionfo (Cinderella or Triumphant Goodness) is a dramatic opera in two acts composed by Rossini in 1817, a year after the 25-year-old composer premiered his famous comic opera. The barber of Siviglia (The Barber of Seville). Poet and librettist Jacopo Ferretti had suggested an opera based on the fairy tale, and he completed the libretto in 22 days, with Rossini completing the score in an equally impressive 24 days.

While Ferretti had doubts about the opera, Rossini was confident of its success. Despite an initial cold reception from critics, The Cenerentola quickly gained popularity in Italy and abroad, and the opera soon eclipsed even The Barber of Seville throughout the 19th century.

VIDEO: Beethoven’s Symphony No. 5 (Proms 2012)

Canadian composer Kevin Lau was first inspired to write Between earth and eternity after visiting NASA’s Johnson Space Center. While Lau started playing the piano at the age of five and was composing by the time he was in high school, he applied to the University of Toronto for music composition and also for astrophysics as a solution. fallback (he was accepted for the musical composition).

“I love space and space exploration – the thought of what it’s like to venture beyond the bonds of our planet – so it first came to mind as a inspirational,” Lau said in a 2020 interview with Houston-based ROCO (formerly the River Oaks Chamber Orchestra).

The title of Lau’s article came after reading former Canadian astronaut Chris Hadfield’s 2015 book Astronaut’s Guide to Life on Earth, which includes a photo of Hadfield performing his first spacewalk — and Canada’s first — during an April 2001 space shuttle mission to the International Space Station. Hadfield’s caption for the photo, which was taken by NASA astronaut Scott Parazynsk, includes the line “Out in the sanctity of space, between Earth and forever.”

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“As soon as I adopted this caption as a title, she almost wrote the piece for me – giving me an idea of ​​the shape of the piece and what I would be doing, Lau recalls. “I also wanted to write something for erhu, which I had never written before, but which interested me, because my paternal grandfather played the instrument. I was totally mesmerized by its unique sound.

A traditional two-stringed Chinese bowed instrument with over 4,000 years of performance history, the erhu has made appearances everywhere from Chinese folk and orchestral music to the World of Warcraft video game soundtrack.

“I wanted the piece to not sound like what you usually hear when you hear an erhu with an orchestra – these works tend to be very much based on Chinese folk songs, which are so beautiful – but I wanted to do something different here, treating the voice erhu more like a sonic character, exploring the possibilities of using the erhu in a very non-eastern context, through this spatial exploration framework,” Lau explains.

The title of Kevin Lau's composition
The title of Kevin Lau’s composition “Between the Earth and Forever” was inspired by the legend of former Canadian astronaut Chris Hadfield in his book featuring this photo of Hadfield’s first spacewalk taken by the astronaut of NASA’s Scott Parazynski during Hadfield’s first spacewalk in April 2001 during a space shuttle mission to the International Space Station. (Photo: NASA)

“First you’ll hear a fanfaric opening reminiscent of Richard Strauss’ Also Sprach Zarathustra (used as the theme for the 1968 film 2001: A Space Odyssey) with this very primordial opening, on a very large canvas, taking us into sound and range,” explains Lau.

“This initial theme is played twice in its entirety, towards the beginning and towards the end. Then the erhu immediately steps in to a slightly disorienting effect, going back and forth between Western-sounding, almost colandish ideas, and also drawing on idioms rooted in Chinese music, sonorities that typically make it erhu.

“The erhu plays an extended cadence towards the beginning of the piece, and I wanted it to take on the voice of the lone astronaut completely surrounded by space. In the first half, erhu and orchestra represent traditional roles, engaging in interaction but keeping character, and as the piece progresses they blend more and more, as Eastern and Western traditions begin to break down and mingle between the erhu and the orchestra. So, at the end, it almost feels like the erhu has gone into orbit, as it gets further and further away from where it started.

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Guest soloist Snow Bai will perform on the erhu, a traditional Chinese two-stringed bowed instrument, in the Peterborough Symphony Orchestra's performance of Canadian composer Kevin Lau's work
Guest soloist Snow Bai will perform on the erhu, a traditional Chinese two-stringed bowed instrument, during the Peterborough Symphony Orchestra’s performance of Canadian composer Kevin Lau’s “Between the Earth and Forever” on November 5, 2022 , (Promotional photo)

For the Peterborough Symphony Orchestra’s performance of “Between the Earth and Forever”, guest soloist Snow Bai will perform on the erhu. Bai has appeared in concerts across North America, France and Japan, as well as several Chinese films and television shows.

“Welcome Back” begins at 7:30 p.m. on Saturday, November 5 at the Showplace Performance Center at 290 George Street North in downtown Peterborough. A ‘Meet the Maestro’ pre-concert talk will take place at 6.44pm, where Peterborough Symphony Orchestra Music Director Michael Newnham will take to the Showplace stage for an intimate chat about the evening’s program.

Single tickets cost $33, $48 or $55 depending on where you sit, with student tickets $12. Tickets are available in person at the Showplace box office from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. Monday through Thursday and 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. Friday, or online anytime at (student tickets are only available ‘on line).

New this season is a “rush ticket” option, where seats are available the day of the concert for only $20 (online only, subject to availability).

kawarthaNOW is proud to be a media sponsor of the Peterborough Symphony Orchestra’s 2022-2023 season.


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