By Natasha Anderson
Explore music with a Scottish flair as conductor Garry Walker leads the Asheville Symphony Orchestra (ASO) on Saturday, February 10, at 8 p.m. at Thomas Wolfe Auditorium. The concert, Masterworks 4: Scot Free, will include Arnold’s Four Scottish Dances, Debussy’s Marche écossaise (Scottish March), Bruch’s Violin Concerto No. 1, with guest violinist Elena Urioste, and Mendelssohn’s Symphony No. 3, Scottish.
“Landscape, poetry, humor, the character of the Scots and a certain Celtic mysticism are all elements which pervade the works,” says Walker. “I am sure they are qualities that an American audience will recognize and enjoy.”
The evening opens with Malcolm Arnold’s 1957 composition Four Scottish Dances, originally composed for a BBC Light Music Festival. Though the piece strongly suggests Scottish folk song origins, three of the dances were created by Arnold and the fourth is based on a melody composed by Scottish poet Robert Burns.
Second on the program is Debussy’s Marche écossaise, commissioned by a Scottish general in 1891. The work, which includes some of Debussy’s own French musical style, uses an oboe and muted trumpet to imitate the sound of bagpipes.
Next, guest soloist Elena Urioste joins the symphony for Bruch’s Violin Concerto No. 1. Urioste was a BBC New Generation Artist from 2012 to 2014 and a first-place laureate in both the Junior and Senior divisions of the Sphinx Competition. She has given acclaimed performances with major orchestras throughout the United States and abroad.
The evening closes with Mendelssohn’s Symphony No. 3, Scottish, which the composer was inspired to write during a visit to Scotland in 1829. The symphony evokes the wild landscapes of the Scottish Highlands and the sounds of Scottish folk songs.
“Mendelssohn’s Symphony is clearly inspired by his extensive visit and stay,” says Walker. “I can say, as a Scot, that he must have been deeply influenced by what he experienced. The second and third movements in particular feel very Scottish in their mood and particularly in their colors—quite unlike anything else he wrote.”
Walker is the third of six finalists for the ASO’s music director position to conduct an audition concert. The audience will be asked to give feedback via a survey after the performance. The three remaining finalists will conduct concerts in March, April and May.
Thomas Wolfe Auditorium is located at 87 Haywood Street in Asheville. Single tickets are $24-$69, depending on seating section. Reduced youth pricing is available. Single tickets and season ticket packages can be purchased online at ashevillesymphony.org, by phone at 828.254.7046, or in person at the U.S. Cellular Center box office at 87 Haywood Street.