Musical Musings

The Sarasota Orchestra Blog

In a season that affirms Sarasota Orchestra’s vitality and upward trajectory, nine guest conductors will arrive at the podium for the 2019-20 Masterworks and Discover Beethoven concert series. Each conductor rides the wave of an illustrious career, and all are highly sought-after worldwide. What’s more, ten soloists who are electrifying today’s concert halls will share prodigious musical gifts in their interpretations of masterpieces from Mozart, Dvorak, Brahms, and beyond!

Violin virtuoso Viviane Hagner makes her debut with Sarasota Orchestra on this season's Masterworks 5 concert, with performances running January 31 to February 3. While Hagner is known for her dedication to new music, critics also laud her seemingly effortless renditions of monumental works for solo violin. Hagner provides two European ports-of-call on this concert's "Round Trip to Paris": Henri Vieuxtemps' Violin Concerto No. 5, and Camille Saint-Saëns' Introduction and Rondo Capriccioso for violin and orchestra, both widely regarded as virtuosic masterpieces.

George Gershwin took his third and final trip to Paris in March of 1928. One afternoon, instead of visiting the Louvre with friends, Gershwin went out on a shopping excursion with a rather unusual list: French taxi horns. These horns weren't souvenirs; they were a crucial element for the orchestration of a new symphonic poem Gershwin had been developing for a couple of months: An American in Paris. The composition paints the scene of an intrepid tourist exploring the French capital, walking off his homesick blues and ultimately embracing the bustling, hectic, but altogether beautiful metropolis. Quacking taxi horns lend An American in Paris its most instantly-recognizable urban noises. For Gershwin, however, they weren't just meant to evoke the authentic sounds of the city. They were essential to making Gershwin's tone poem truly modern music in the implementation of artifacts from the surrounding world.

In his very first season with Sarasota Youth Orchestra, Jack Gallahan impressed judges with his winning performances during the 2018 Edward and Ida Wilkof Young Artists Concerto Competition. A 16-year-old junior at Pine View School, Gallahan began studying piano at age five, then switched to cello upon joining his school orchestra five years ago. As his innate musical gifts emerged on a new instrument, fellow Pine View students encouraged Gallahan to get involved with the Youth Orchestra.

At Great Escapes: Shuffle, it's all about giving the people what they want! Each of five performances from January 23 to 27 will be completely unique as audience members take the extraordinary opportunity to call out requests and hear them fulfilled by a live orchestra. Each program opens with Mozart's Overture from Don Giovanni and closes with John Williams' Superman March.

You're probably wondering, just how does a symphony transform into a jukebox loaded with classical and pops favorites? Here's how it works:

  • Before taking your seat in the concert hall, stop by the participation table to receive your lucky number.
  • Peruse the menu of musical "morsels" and pick out the works you most want to hear from the Pops and Light Classics offerings. (Tip: Choose more than one from each category in case someone else in the crowd requests your favorite first!)
  • Throughout the evening, our concert moderator will pull numbers from the Shuffle hat. Listen up! If your number is called, don't be shy—stand up and call out your request!
  • Sit back to enjoy a concert of your own making. Go on and bask in the product of your excellent taste.

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Concert Details

Six Fascinating Facts about Pops Guest Conductor Sarah Hicks

This Friday and Saturday, sensational Pops conductor Sarah Hicks leads the Sarasota Orchestra in a special production of La La Land in Concert. Since 2009, Hicks has hung her baton with the Minnesota Orchestra as principal conductor of Live at Orchestra Hall, where she reigns over many of the orchestra's Pops and Special Presentations. Over the course of her career, she's developed a specialty in presenting film screenings underscored by live orchestra. An interview with San Francisco Classical Voice revealed that Hicks was one of the first adopters of the symphonic cinema-sounds concert format.

"I realized I had a particular skill for it, because I'm always fascinated by taking in a lot of information and trying to process it," Hicks told music journalist Jeff Kaliss. "What someone might find stressful and annoying, I find intensely pleasurable."

Here are some other fascinating facts about Sarah Hicks:

  • As a child, Hicks demonstrated great talent as both a pianist and violist. Chronic tendonitis compelled her to pick up a baton when she was in high school; the podium has been her home ever since.
  • Hicks grew up in Honolulu, Hawaii, and attended college at Harvard University, where she majored in composition. Hicks spent one break founding the Hawaii Summer Symphony, which she directed for five seasons.
  • A rock star in her own right, Hicks has led orchestras backing popular artists such as Smokey Robinson, Ben Folds, John Mayer, Sting, and Josh Groban.
  • In 2014, Hicks conducted a program of space-themed music with the Boston Pops titled "Out of this World" and narrated by Leonard Nimoy of Star Trek television fame. The concert would be one of Nimoy's final public appearances.
  • Hicks' motto: Music is meant to be enjoyed! When she travels outside the United States on international conducting tours, her visa is stamped with "entertainer" as her professional title.
  • The woman's got pipes! Hicks has fun singing and writing blues and pop songs, and even fronted a "garage band" of fellow classical musicians called Cowpath 40.

Now that you've gotten to know this dynamo conductor better, come see Sarah Hicks in her element as she takes the stage this Friday and Saturday with the Sarasota Orchestra to present La La Land in Concert!

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Written byHerald Tribune

 There's no doubt, audiences are thrilled by the Sarasota Orchestra's new music director, Anu Tali. She's brought an intense energy from the orchestra in previous performances and we found this yet again in a downright thrill ride of an encounter...  

Written byHerald Tribune

 Literally gripping the arms of my seat, I was not the only one propelled on this rollercoaster of delightful music.  

Written byHerald Tribune

 Every section and soloist within the orchestra played their role with strength and beauty; every tree proud and tall. Tali served as an excellent guide leading the forces with assured confidence. The overall sound was lush and, yes, intense just where it needed to be.  

Written byHerald Tribune

 The Sarasota Orchestra was brimming with bubbling energy...  

Written byHerald Tribune

 A lifetime of musical moments, cinematic in scope, gave every section of the orchestra a leading role at one time or another. Chief among them was the virtuosic solo of concertmaster Daniel Jordan.  

Written byHerald Tribune

 It was a thrill ride resulting in an explosion of audience enthusiasm.  

Written byHerald Tribune

 Tali conveyed a clear vision for the dramatic outline of this symphony, carefully pacing the darker, searching character of the music with pastoral conversations among voices in the orchestra.  

Written byThe Observer

 If you haven’t seen Tali yet, this will be a great introduction to the skyrocketing conductor who’s quickly becoming a household name around the world. You’ll see why we feel we’re lucky to have her here.  

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