Arts & Entertainment

Music of Sibelius to Open Hunterdon Symphony Concert Season

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Nancy Vanderslice Credits: courtesy photo
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CLINTON TWP., NJ – The Hunterdon Symphony will present the first concert of its 2017-2018 season on Saturday, Nov. 4.

The program, entitled “Nordic Light, will feature the orchestra under the direction of Conductor Lawrence Kursar in a performance of Grieg’s Norwegian Dances and two compositions by Sibelius.

A change in the location of the concert was necessary following the recent fire at Hunterdon Central High School. The concert is now scheduled for 8 p.m. at North Hunterdon High School on Route 31 south here.

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The Swan of Tuonela, which will feature Nancy Vanderslice on English horn, is a tone poem by Sibelius based on Finnish mythology. The English horn is the voice of the swan, and the solo is one of the best known in the orchestral literature. The music paints a gossamer, transcendental image of a mystical swan floating through the realm of the dead.

Vanderslice is principle oboist with Plainfield Symphony and Baroque Orchestra of New Jersey and has played on Broadway since 2008. As a soloist, Vanderslice has performed with The Baroque Orchestra of New Jersey many times over the past 13 years and will also be soloist with The North Jersey Symphony next year. She is also an adjunct professor at Montclair State University and County College of Morris

Sibelius was commissioned to write his Symphony No. 5 by the Finnish government in honor of his 50th birthday, which had been declared a national holiday. The symphony was originally composed and premiered in 1915, but at the time of its writing, Sibelius was experiencing self-doubt and inner struggles with music composition. With the aim of finding a better way of saying what he wished to say in the right musical terms, he revised the symphony in 1916 and again in 1919. The final version is most commonly performed today, one of the really great late-Romantic symphonies.

In his compositions during this period, Sibelius seemed concerned with a deepening of the connection between music and nature. The most memorable example of this occurs in the Fifth Symphony’s finale. Inspired by a sighting of 16 swans flying overhead, he introduced a bell-like tolling of chords among the four horns in the orchestra, in essence replicating the sound of the birds. This "swan theme" is the soul of the movement.

Tickets prices are $20; $15 for seniors; and $10 for students. Advance sales are available through the group’s website, or the following local merchants (cash or check only): Califon Book Shop; Clinton Book Shop; Teaberry’s Tea Room in Flemington; Minette’s Candies or The Book Garden in Frenchtown.

Tickets will also be available at the door on the evening of the concert. For more information or to request an accommodation for a disability, visit the website or call 908-995-7977. Hunterdon Musical Arts may also be found on Facebook.

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