23 Sep 2023

Dunedin Symphony Orchestra - 'Dvořák's New World'

From Music Alive, 8:00 pm on 23 September 2023

The Dunedin Symphony Orchestra explores new worlds with the world premiere of Anthony Ritchie's Sixth Symphony and Antonin Dvořák's Ninth Symphony.

Curtain calls at a Dunedin Symphony Orchestra concert with conductor Simon Over and composer Anthony Ritchie

Conductor Simon Over and composer Anthony Ritchie with the Dunedin Symphony Orchestra Photo: Dunedin Symphony Orchestra

Promotional head and shoulders of conductor Simon Over

Simon Over Photo: Dunedin Symphony Orchestra

Simon Over is the conductor in the last appearance during his tenure as Principal Guest Conductor for the Dunedin Symphony Orchestra.

Anthony RITCHIE: Symphony No 6

Anthony Ritchie writes:

"In March 2020, the Covid pandemic engulfed the world and we were put into lockdown. I had just become the Head of the School of Performing Arts at the University of Otago, and a busy semester was starting up when we all had to stay home and work online. It was a stressful time, but the quiet calm of lockdown was somehow conducive for creativity and I found myself starting a new symphony. It was informed by a sense of crisis that was pervading the world, but also by more personal feelings. Music can have meaning for us if it connects with our imagination and inner emotional life in some way. This symphony explores ideas around love, death, the afterlife, and our relationship to the environment.

"The opening theme on saxophone is intended as a 'love theme', as if played from a lonesome balcony in search of a listener.

"The symphony is also unifed by the tonality of E flat minor, a dark tonality that symbolises death."

There are four movements:
I. Crisis
II. Meditation
III. Spirits
IV. Grieving

This audio is not downloadable due to copyright restrictions.

This audio is not downloadable due to copyright restrictions.

DVORAK: Symphony No 9 in E minor, 'From The New World'

In 1892, at the age of 51, Antonin Dvořák accepted the position of director of the National Conservatory of Music of America in New York City. He held the job for three years. He was never particularly happy there – homesickness mostly – but the pay was eye-wateringly good and he was inspired by the music he found in America – especially the music of the American Indians and the spirituals of the African-American people.

At the Conservatory, he met a student Harry Burleigh who sang spirituals to him. Burleigh said that Dvořák had absorbed the spirit of the spirituals into his own melodies for the works he wrote during this time. The most famous of which is this Symphony No 9, subtitled ‘From The New World’.

And the most famous of its melodies is the haunting tune played on the cor anglais in the second movement. It’s been claimed that Dvořák originally wrote the melody for the clarinet but changed to the cor anglais because he felt it more closely resembled the timbre of Harry Burleigh’s voice.

Dvořák also said that he was thinking of this movement as a study for a cantata or opera that he was going to base of Henry Longfellow’s epic poem, The Song of Hiawatha. That project never eventuated.

But that’s just all background ... the music speaks for itself. It’s one of the most-loved Symphonies of all time.

This audio is not downloadable due to copyright restrictions.

Recorded by RNZ Concert in Dunedin Town Hall, 23 September 2023
Producer: Tim Dodd
Sound Engineer: Darryl Stack

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