Monday, Sept 5, 2011:Dvořák in Nashville

Nashville's Schermerhorn Symphony Center was opened in 2006 at a cost of $125.5 million. An all-Dvořák concert is this season's opener.

Dvořák in Nashville

The DvorákovaPraha Festival is getting ready to raise the curtain on its opening concert. Over at the Czech Museum of Music some Dvořák concerts will be performed this month.

And on another stage a symphony orchestra will be opening its season with an all-Dvořák concert featuring the incomparable cellist Yo-Yo Ma, conducted by Giancarlo Guerrero. It’s the Nashville Symphony in the American state of Tennessee – “Music City,” the home of rock ‘n roll and country music stars from Elvis Presley to Hank Williams.

But Elvis and Hank aren’t the only stars contributing to Music City’s reputation. The Nashville Symphony has been nominated for 13 classical music Grammy Awards and received six wins just since the year 2000.

So Opus Osm asked music director Guerrero how the Czech composer ended up starring on the gala opening concert program, especially since part of the symphony’s mission statement reads, “a focus on the creation, promotion, and preservation of a distinctly American repertoire.”

“We have earned a reputation for our commitment to commissioning, premiering, and recording work by American composers,” Mr Guerrero admits, “but at the same time we are just as committed to performing the great works from the repertoire.

Giancarlo Guerrero

“A wonderful thing about Dvořák is that, because of his own time in America, he bridges these two worlds: He comes from that great European orchestral tradition, but he incorporated the American musical sensibility into his music.”

The concert this Friday offers Dvořák’s Symphony No. 9, “From the New World;” Silent Woods, Op 68 No 5; and the Cello Concerto in B Minor. “I wanted to perform one of the standard concertos as a showcase for our special guest, Yo-Yo Ma, but I wanted to do it in combination with work that isn’t very well known, in this case Silent Woods,” Mr Guerrero explains.

He says the ninth symphony was chosen because it’s so beloved, “and each time we hear it, we are reminded of what great music it is.”

Undoubtedly, Dvořák’s works in the hands of Mr Ma will make for an unforgettable evening of music. Mr Guerrero says, “I’ve worked with Yo-Yo Ma a lot in the past few years, and I consider him a dear friend and colleague. What I love about working with Yo-Yo is there’s always something fresh and new with him – he’s always reinventing himself.”

Just imagine the magical result of that constant reinvention, if the symphony and its special guest were to perform in Prague, The Mother of Cities, as well as in Music City. – oo

– Mary Matz

You may not be able to zip over to Nashville for the Symphony’s zesty opening concert, but you can watch a video of Mr Guerrero explaining some background for the Dvořák concert by clicking below:

About Silent Woods:
Dvořák composed it as a four-hand piano piece in 1883 as part of a cycle, Ze Šumavy (From the Bohemian Forest);
Dvořák titled it Klid (Silence) but his German publisher, Fritz Simrock, changed it to the German, Die Ruhe, and later Waldesruhe (Silent Woods);
Dvořák later transcribed it for piano and cello, and also for cello and orchestra.

Photo Credits: All photos and video excerpt: Nashville Symphony

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