By Natasha Anderson
On Saturday, May 11, the Asheville Symphony (ASO) brings its 2018-2019 season to a close with a concert featuring nearly 100 musicians performing Stravinsky’s electrifying work The Rite of Spring. The program, held at 8 p.m. at Asheville’s Thomas Wolfe Auditorium, is conducted by ASO music director Darko Butorac and also includes Márquez’s Danzón No. 2 and Saint-Saëns’ Violin Concerto No. 3 with guest violinist Simone Porter.
“The Danzón is an homage to rhythms, in this particular case to those of Cuba and Mexico, and it’s a nod to what comes up with Stravinsky in the second half of the concert,” says Butorac. “The Saint-Saëns concerto is fiery and virtuosic, providing a gypsy-inspired bridge between the other works.”
The program opens with Arturo Márquez’s Danzón No. 2., a work that gained worldwide popularity when the Simón Bolívar Youth Orchestra of Venezuela under conductor Gustavo Dudamel included it on the program of their 2007 European and American tour. The piece is inspired by a Cuban dance style known as danzón, which made its way up the coast to the Mexican state of Veracruz, where it has become an important part of folklore.
Next, violinist Simone Porter joins the orchestra for Saint-Saëns’ Violin Concerto No. 3. Porter made her professional solo debut at age 10 with the Seattle Symphony and her international debut with the Royal Philharmonic Orchestra in London at age 13. In March 2015, she was named a recipient of an Avery Fisher Career Grant and, in June 2016, her featured performance of music from Schindler’s List with Maestro Gustavo Dudamel and members of the American Youth Symphony was broadcast nationally on the TNT Network as part of the AFI Life Achievement Award: A Tribute to John Williams.
“The Saint-Saëns concerto has a legendary opening— infamous in the violin world for its difficulty, yet deliciously rich and dramatic,” says Porter. “From there on, it’s such a joy to embody the characters the concerto offers, from the grandstanding of the first movement to the dancing, glossy sweetness of the second to the pompous and celebratory march of the third.”
The evening closes with a rare performance of one of the most powerful pieces of orchestral music ever written: Stravinsky’s The Rite of Spring. Though it caused a riotous reaction upon its 1913 premiere in Paris, this piece is now regarded as one of the most important modernist works and has left a mark on many other musical styles since.
“The Rite of Spring was a stage work written to shock,” says Butorac. “The scenery, choreography and, above all, music were created to break every conception or barrier. It is a tremendous work to experience live—simply a massive rush of orchestral sound.”
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 of ce at 87 Haywood Street.