Symphony concert inspired by the heavens
Symphony of Oak Park and River Forest
4 p.m. Sunday, March 3
Dominican University Performing Arts Center, 7900 W. Division St., River Forest
symphonyoprf.com or dom.edu/pac
Updated: February 27, 2013 12:06PM
The sky’s the limit for Sunday’s performance by the Symphony of Oak Park and River Forest.
Not only is the music, well, out of this world, but three different conductors will transport the audience to the heavens.
The celestial theme of the afternoon actually started when music director and conductor Jay Friedman scheduled Gustav Holst’s popular “The Planets” for the third in his orchestra’s five-concert season.
Based on astrology rather than the science of astronomy, the work premiered in 1918 and consists of seven sections: Mars, the Bringer of War; Venus, the Bringer of Peace; Mercury, the Winged Messenger; Jupiter, the Bringer of Jollity; Saturn, the Bringer of Old Age; Uranus, the Magician; and Neptune, the Mystic.
The music will be accompanied by a slide presentation by Thomas Steffens, assembled especially for this concert.
“The last section ‘Neptune’ has a chorus of women’s voices,” said Friedman, who is principal trombone of the Chicago Symphony Orchestra, “so Bill Chin came up with the idea of using the women for Holst’s ‘Rig Veda,’ so they just wouldn’t be performing in just one piece.”
Chin, assistant conductor of the Chicago Symphony Orchestra, also directs the chorus for the Symphony of Oak Park and River Forest. The “Rig Veda” is a set of some 1,000 Hindu hymns, reputed to be developed before 2000 B.C.E. but not written down in Sanskrit, until 300 B.C.E.
Holst set a number of those hymn texts for chorus between 1904 and 1914, and Chin will lead the women of the symphony’s chorus, as well as women from City Voices and the girls in his Pro Musica Youth Chorus in “Hymn to the Dawn;” “Hymn to the Waters;” “Hymn to Vena” (Sun rising through the mist), and “Hymn of the Travellers.”
The program was still not complete, however. So it was decided that Mozart’s Symphony No. 41, his last, would be played. The work is popularly called “Jupiter,” though it has no connection to the planet.
It will be conducted by Maurice Boyer, who this season was named assistant conductor of the Symphony of Oak Park and River Forest. He is assistant professor of music at Concordia University in River Forest and conducts the Chamber Orchestra there. Boyer grew up in France and was assistant conductor for Maestro John Nelson when he led the Ensemble Orchestral de Paris.
“Since the the 2007-08 season Jay has asked me to occasionally conduct the symphony rehearsals when he has a conflict with his CSO schedule,” Boyer explained, adding that he initially sang in the tenor section of the Symphony of Oak Park and River Forest’s chorus.
“This will be the first time I will conduct the orchestra in a season concert,” he said, “and Mozart is very close to my heart. I’m looking forward to it.”