Premieres are not necessarily auspicious events. That certainly seemed to be the case for the debut of Jean Sibelius’ Violin Concerto in D Minor — the composer’s only concerto.
2018–2019 SERIES: VIRTUOSOS
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Free Pre-Concert Preview Series!
Enhance your concert experience with a sneak preview — Composers come alive and their passions take center stage when ESO General Manager David Ellis and ESO Maestro Lawrence Eckerling take you on an insider’s tour of the history and highlights behind the music.
Maestro Lawrence Eckerling and David Ellis will explore the February concert program in depth.
Friday, February 1 at 1:30 pm,
The Merion Crystal Ballroom at
1611 Chicago Avenue at Davis Street, Evanston.
FREE and open to the public.
Light refreshments will be served and casual tours of newly renovated apartments will be available after the program.
As the son of a publisher and a well-read, studious fellow himself, the young Robert Schumann was interested in being a writer. When he realized his true passion was music, he instead became the only one of four brothers to quit the family publishing business, building a successful career as a composer, pianist, and music critic. Even so, he never forgot his literary roots, and showed a particular zeal for setting written works to music.
Like the Fifth and Sixth symphonies, Beethoven’s Seventh and Eighth are a set of “untwins,” contrasting works created basically side-by-side. Beethoven completed Seventh Symphony in 1812 and premiered it and his Wellington’s Victory, or The Battle of Vitoria, in December 1813 at a fund-raiser for soldiers wounded at the battle of Hanau. In between, the program featured marches by other composers where the orchestra was accompanied by a mechanical trumpet-playing machine, created by Johann Malzel, who also invented the metronome.
Ave Verum Corpus has been hailed through the years as one of classical music’s great masterworks, a testament to Mozart’s incredible ability to create powerfully emotional works. Perhaps the most impressive aspect of the motet is that it reaches this emotional depth over the course of just 46 measures and through incredible simplicity. It was once famously described by Artur Schnabel as “too simple for children and too difficult for adults.”
Symphony No. 2 in C Minor, “Resurrection,” by Gustav Mahler is as big as its name. The massive work, which the Evanston Symphony Orchestra will play in its last concert of the season on June 11, is grand in all directions: scope, intensity and length.
Gustav Mahler was born at Kalischt near the Moravian border of Bohemia on July 7, 1860, and died in Vienna on May 18, 1911. Mahler originally wrote the first movement of his Symphony No. 2 in 1888 as a “symphonic poem” entitled Todtenfeier (“Funeral Rites”). He wavered for five years about whether to make Todtenfeier the beginning of a symphony, and it was not until the summer of 1893 that he composed the second and third movements. The finale and a revision of the first movement followed in the spring and summer of 1894.
Consider for a moment the film Star Wars, one of the most popular and highest-grossing movies ever created. Now think about the film without its score. Not so easy to do, right?
The iconic music from Star Wars, which features such movements as “Princess Leia’s Theme,” “The Imperial March” and “Yoda’s Theme,” is one of the most well-known and played pieces of movie music in the world. Fortunately for film buffs, the Evanston Symphony Orchestra will be playing the suite in its entirety at its May 7 concert.
Rachmaninoff’s works have inspired many Hollywood soundtracks, so it is fitting that his Piano Concerto No. 3 has itself played a central film role. Shine, the 1996 movie based on the true story of Australian pianist David Helfgott, depicts the life of a piano prodigy pushed to perfection by his domineering father, and driven to madness by the technical and emotional demands of the “Rach 3.” The film earned praise from critics and audiences alike, and an Oscar for lead actor Geoffrey Rush. It also renewed interest in Rachmaninoff’s technical tour-de-force.
Sergei Prokofiev was not an obvious choice to compose the score for Lt. Kije, one of the earliest Soviet films. In 1932, he had not yet composed his more popular works, Romeo and Juliet or Peter and the Wolf. When approached by the film studio, Belgoskino, in 1932, Prokofiev saw it as a way to reach a wider audience, thanks to the international distribution of the film.
March opens with another blockbuster Evanston Symphony Orchestra concert featuring Hector Berlioz’s Symphonie fantastique and Frederick Chopin’s Piano Concerto No. 1 in E Minor featuring pianist Sean Chen, third-prize winner in the 2013 Cliburn Competition. There is still plenty more in store, however, during this 71st season of the ESO.