Symphony for the season

Ghosts and threads of danger run through the musical stories in the symphony's pre-Halloween performance

Posted: Thursday, October 24, 2002

Juneau residents don't have to wait for Halloween to hear stories of ghosts and pirates and other dangerous adventures. The Juneau Symphony will take care of that Saturday night during its first performance of the 2002-03 season.

Maestro Kyle Wiley Pickett will direct the symphony in renditions of Mozart's "Don Giovanni" Overture, Reinecke's Flute Concerto, and Rimsky-Korsakov's "Scheherazade." He chose the pieces because they lend themselves well to the Halloween season, he said.

"We're opening with Mozart's 'Don Giovanni' Overture," Pickett said. "What's referenced in that opening is the scene where Don Giovanni confronts the ghost of one of his victims and invites him to come to dinner with him. At the end of the opera the ghost shows up to dinner and sends Don Giovanni to hell."

The main piece of the program will be Rimsky-Korsakov's Scheherazade, in which four of "The Thousand and One Nights," a collection of Arabian and Persian folk tales, are told.

"'The Thousand and One Nights' is the story of a sultan who has decided that women are generally unfaithful and so he's going to put them to death after sleeping with them," Pickett said.

Scheherazade, one of the sultan's wives, contrived a clever plan to fool the king, though, Pickett said. Every night she told a story to the sultan and stopped just before the end, so the sultan would have to keep her alive another day to hear the end of the story. The next day, she would finish the first story and start another. Finally, after 1001 nights of tales, the sultan decided to spare her life.

"The (Rimsky-Korsakov) piece tells four of those stories," Pickett said. The first and fourth involve Sinbad the pirate, the second involves intrigue in the court of a young prince known as the Kalandar Prince, and the third is a love story between a prince and princess.

"You definitely hear the movement of the sea and the ocean in the Sinbad sections," said Wiley Pickett, who this season will hold pre-concert talks before performances, as he has in the past.

"The talks are funny and casual," Pickett said. "I'll explain some of the selections and demonstrate a few of the tunes."

The season's inaugural performance also will feature principal flutist Sally Schlichting in Reinecke's Flute Concerto. Danish-born Carl Heinrich Reinecke lived from 1824 to 1910.

"I think the best way to describe it is as a flute piece that doesn't sound flutey," said Wiley Pickett.

He asked Schlichting to choose the piece she would play, he said.

"I always really liked this composer," Schlichting said. "The piece is very romantic, with beautiful flowing melodies. It's very passionate."

Schlichting, 35, has been playing with the Juneau Symphony since she was 15, and has been principal flutist since she returned to Juneau from college at the age of 22.

"She's really just a tremendously dedicated musician," Pickett said. "She plays with a great deal of lyricism and beauty and really sells the piece well."

Because of construction at Juneau-Douglas High School, Saturday's performance will take place at Centennial Hall.

"It's still very much worth coming," Pickett said.

Speakers will subtly amplify the symphony's sound, and the performance will be simultaneously broadcast on a screen hung above the performers to compensate for the lack of raked seating in the hall.

"We've got a big year planned, and I don't want people to miss it because it's in Centennial Hall," Wiley Pickett said. "It's a real gem in the community."

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