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Wednesday, June 1, 2011

Xavier Phillips Joins MSO for Elgar Concerto

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D.H. Lawrence described the World War I era as a time when 2,000 years of civilization were collapsing before his eyes. “So much beauty and pathos of old things passing away and no new things coming—my God, it breaks my soul,” he wrote. Yet there was still hope in music, as manifested in Edward Elgar's Concerto in E Minor for Cello and Orchestra. The opening theme was written one day after Elgar had throat surgery, and World War I was taking a toll on his spirit. “I cannot do any real work with this awful shadow over us,” he confided to a friend. Elgar described the work as “haunted by an autumnal sadness.” At its premiere, critic Ernest Newman said the piece had “profound wisdom and beauty” and brought “wistful brooding upon the loveliness of Earth.” French cello virtuoso Xavier Phillips will join the Milwaukee Symphony Orchestra for this concerto.

The concert continues with Dvorak's Symphony No. 7. Born in Bohemia, Dvorak, the son of a butcher and rural innkeeper, attended organ school in Prague, studied under Czech composer Bedrich Smetana and found time to compose his own works. Aided by Johannes Brahms, he was able to publish music that was lauded throughout Europe. Part of Dvorak's allure was his use of Eastern folk melodies, rhythms and classical structures, as well as themes found in American folk music.

Join Maestro Edo de Waart and the MSO for performances at 11:15 a.m. June 3 and 8 p.m. June 4 at Uihein Hall.
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