By Natasha Anderson
The Asheville Symphony Orchestra (ASO) closes its 2021/22 season with Masterworks 5: Looking Glass, two concerts held Friday, May 13, and Saturday, May 14, at 8 p.m. in downtown Asheville’s Central United Methodist Church. ASO music director Darko Butorac conducts the two performances featuring works by Mozart, Prokofiev and Saint-Saëns.
“This program is unusual in that it features two symphonies on the same concert,” says Butorac. “Prokofiev asked the question, how would someone from the 1700s write a symphony if they suddenly appeared in the 20th century? And so we get the idea of Looking Glass, a musical time-travel where two composers are speaking to each other while being centuries removed.”
Prokofiev’s beloved Symphony No. 1, nicknamed the Classical Symphony, opens the concert. Premiered in 1918, it was composed as an experiment in placing modern harmonies and rhythms within the traditional classical symphonic form of Mozart’s era.
Next, guest cellist Christine Lamprea joins the orchestra for Saint-Saëns’ Cello Concerto No. 1, which premiered in Paris in 1873. Lamprea, who has a reputation as a firebrand cellist, brings her intensity to Saint-Saëns’ uniquely dynamic concerto.
“I have had the chance to work with Christine before,” says Butorac. “She is such a virtuoso and magnetic performer, and the Saint-Saëns is a delightful work that takes full advantage of the cello.”
Lamprea began her concert career in 2013 upon winning Astral Artists’ National Auditions, the Sphinx Competition and the Schadt National String Competition. She has since performed with orchestras including the Detroit Symphony, Houston Symphony and the San Antonio Symphony. In 2018, she received the Sphinx Medal of Excellence for her contributions to the field as an artist of color.
As a recitalist, Lamprea recently performed premieres of her own arrangements of Colombian music for Supreme Court Justice Sonia Sotomayor and the Colombian Ambassador to the United States.
Rounding out the evening is Mozart’s Symphony No. 41, Jupiter, regarded by many as the peak of the composer’s instrumental work and as one of the greatest symphonies in classical music. Combining inventive melodies and emotional depth, it was Mozart’s longest and final symphony. The nickname Jupiter references the Roman god and is likely a nod to the symphony’s grandeur and exuberance.
“This pair of concerts at Central United Methodist, a space known for its excellent acoustics, is a wonderful opportunity for our orchestra,” says Butorac. “I think the audience will feel very connected to the stage and will actually physically feel the sound.”
Central United Methodist Church is located at 27 Church Street, Asheville. Tickets are $70 for adults and $55 for youth. For tickets and more information, call 828.254.7046 or visit AshevilleSymphony.org.