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Conversations with creators and organizers of the arts scene in West Michigan, hosted by Cara Lieurance

Concert preview: "Bachtoberfest," by the Kalamazoo Symphony Orchestra

Julian Kuerti conducts the orchestra
Kalamazoo Symphony Orchestra
Julian Kuerti conducts the orchestra

"The Margrave of Brandenburg never heard them!" conductor Julian Kuerti tells Cara Lieurance about the now ultra-famous 6 Brandenburg concertos he says were Bach's unsuccessful attempt to gain the notice and possible patronage of Brandenburg. At 7:30 pm on Saturday, Oct 21 at Miller Auditorium, the Kalamazoo Symphony Orchestra will perform two of the Brandenburg concertos in a concert called "Bachtoberfest."

Kuerti explains that the 2nd and 4th concertos feature different groupings of soloists, and he will feature members of the KSO in solo roles, including Scott Thornburg on trumpet and concertmaster Jun-Ching Lin on violin.

Another KSO principal player will be the featured soloist in a new work by Sami Saif, which bridges the two Brandenburg concertos. Violist Arturo Ziraldo joins the conversation to talk about how Saif based the music on an ancient Aramaic hymn in Shubho Lhaw Qolo (Glory to the Voice). Ziraldo thinks the viola adds a human, singing element to the work.

The work that begins the program was written in 1936 by Bela Bartok, whose worlds blended classical training and his immersion in folk song from original sources. According to Julian Kuerti, Bartok spent time in remote and mountainous communities recording songs by the residents who had the longest memories. The Music for Strings, Percussion and Celesta is a stunning achievement in 20th century music, he says. Bartok's reverence for mathematical principles, his masterful fugue writing, his style of "night music" evoking forest sounds and insects, along with non-classical folk melodies combine in a single, cohesive work. It's a hypnotic experience for players and listeners alike.

Tickets and more information are at the Kalamazoo Symphony Orchestra website.

Cara Lieurance is the local host of NPR's All Things Considered on 1021 WMUK and covers local arts & culture on Let's Hear It on 89.9 Classical WMUK weekday mornings at 10 - 11 am.
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