Newspaper article News Sentinel

Spirituality Translated in Trio of Pieces by Knoxville Symphony Orchestra

Newspaper article News Sentinel

Spirituality Translated in Trio of Pieces by Knoxville Symphony Orchestra

Article excerpt

Spirituality is the theme of the Knoxville Symphony Orchestra's concerts Thursday and Friday, May 16 and 17, when the orchestra, with guest cellist Inbal Segev, delve into three very different perspectives of the nature of spirituality. This follows April's terrific performances of Verdi's "Requiem."

The first of this trio will be the "Overture" to Richard Wagner's 1845 opera "Tannhauser," based on the legendary life of the medieval German minstrel and poet.

Tannhauser ventures into the world of Venusberg and falls in love with the goddess Venus. But his delight in earthly pleasures conflicts with his desire for salvation. Tannhauser appeals to the Virgin Mary and even gets an audience with the Pope where he pleads his case.

KSO music director and conductor Lucas Richman's own "Three Pieces for Cello and Orchestra: Declaration, Prayer and Freylach," completed just this year, shifts the spiritual perspective to the Jewish faith.

Israeli-American cellist Inbal Segev will perform the world premiere of the first movement "Declaration," the most recent addition to the work.

The assembly of the work spread over four decades. The middle movement, "Prayer," was written in 1989 for Richman's friend, cellist David Low, then artistic director of the Brandeis-Bardin Institute.

Its harmonic structure is rooted in Eastern European Jewish culture, while its melodic language references cantorial music and the traditional Israeli folk song "Mayim, Mayim."

The third movement, "Freylach," was added in 1999. According to Richman's notes, it "transforms the melody from 'Prayer' into a folk dance and virtuoso showcase for the soloist."

"Lucas asked me to play this piece because I am from Israel and have an innate feel for the music," Segev said during a telephone conversation from her home. "It's a very exciting piece. …

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