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October 2015 Concert

2:30 pm
Sunday, October 25, 2015

Scheherazade and
Other Tales

Our Platinum Anniversary season opens with orchestral favorites depicting literary tales, and each one includes a storm! Of course there is much more, including the “Lone Ranger” and one of Tchaikovsky’s most impassioned love themes. ESO Concertmaster Julie Fischer will portray the wily Scheherazade with her many violin solos.


Go To Program Notes |Go To Videos

Musical Insights Free Pre-Concert Preview the Friday before this concert.
Learn How to Attend!

  • Rossini
  • Overture to William Tell
  • Tchaikovsky
  • The Tempest; Fantasy Overture, Op. 18
  • Rimsky-Korsakov 
  • Scheherazade, Op. 35

    Julie Fischer, Concertmaster

Pick-Staiger Concert Hall

50 Arts Circle Drive, Evanston
See map.


Buy Tickets

All tickets are assigned seating.

At this time, masks, vaccinations and testing are no longer required to attend ESO concerts or events. As always, we ask that if you are sick, please stay home to prevent the spread of illness. (read more detail).

Advance Sales

$35 Adult, $30 Seniors, $5.00 Full-Time Student

At the Door Sales

$39 Adult, $35 Seniors, $5.00 Full-Time Student

Children Free

Children 12 and younger are admitted absolutely FREE, but must have an assigned seat.
Please call 847.864.8804 or email for all orders with children’s tickets.

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Musical Insights

Free Pre-Concert Preview Series!

October 20, Friday, at 1:30 pm

Enhance your concert experience with a sneak preview — Composers come alive and their passions take center stage when ESO Maestro Lawrence Eckerling takes you on an insider’s tour of the history and highlights behind the music.

Maestro Lawrence Eckerling will explore the concert program in depth.


The Merion
Friday, October 20 at 1:30 pm,
Merion's Emerald Lounge at
529 Davis St, Evanston.
FREE and open to the public.
Please RSVP to 847-570-7815.

Light refreshments will be served and casual tours of apartments will be available after the program.


The Evanston Symphony Orchestra is proud to provide videos to educate you about the pieces we perform and, at times, the soloists who will be performing. The video(s) below are examples only and do not represent performances by the Evanston Symphony Orchestra unless noted.


Valery Gergiev and the Vienna Philharmonic from the 2005 Salzburg Festival

The Tempest

Claudio Abbado and the Lucerne Festival Orchestra 2008.

Program Notes

by David Ellis


Gioacchino Rossini (1792–1868)
12 minutes

The life of Rossini is a treasure trove of musical trivia. He premiered 39 operas in the19 years between 1810 and 1829, then lived another 39 years composing virtually nothing, concentrating instead on pleasure. Because he was born on February 29, in a few months he will celebrate only his 55th birthday. Most of the overtures to his operas have little to do with the music in the actual operas; when he ran out of time completing the Barber of Seville he used the overture from an opera composed three years previously.

William Tell was Rossini’s final opera and possibly his greatest. Requiring well over four hours in an uncut performance, it is based on a play by Friedrich Schiller dealing with the revolt of the Swiss against their Austrian oppressors. The overture is a miniature tone poem in four sections evoking the drama to follow without actually using music from the opera itself. The overture opens with a passage for five cellos, each with a separate part, thought to represent the calm of the Swiss countryside. A furious storm with a thudding bass drum breaks into the calm, and is succeeded in turn by solo English horn and solo flute signifying the calm after the storm. The finale is a galop, one of the most memorable tunes in all of music, forecasting the eventual victory and freedom of the Swiss. A famous bon mot defines an intellectual as someone who can listen to the end of this overture and not think of The Lone Ranger.


Peter Ilyich Tchaikovsky (18401893)
24 minutes

When Tchaikovsky composed his earliest masterwork, the 1869 overture-fantasy Romeo and Juliet, he partially followed a formal plan devised by the composer Mily Balakirev which included prescriptions of specific keys for various segments of the story. In 1872 the powerful and influential music critic Vladimir Stasov approached Tchaikovsky with the strong suggestion that he compose another symphonic poem on a literary theme, and offered three possible subjects, for each of which Stasov had written a detailed scenario: Gogol’s Taras Bulba, Sir Walter Scott’s Ivanhoe, and Shakespeare’s The Tempest. Tchaikovsky chose The Tempest, although he unsuccessfully attempted to get Stasov’s agreement to omit the tempest itself, and he completed the work in October 1873.

The program of the piece follows Stasov’s scenario closely
(Tchaikovsky’s words are italicized):

The sea. Shifting string harmonies and soft horn calls evoke the mysteries of the magician Prospero’s enchanted island as a boat approaches. A chorale-like theme on the woodwinds represents the noble passengers on the ship.

The storm/The magic island. Prospero’s servant Ariel creates a storm which drives the boat onto the shores of Prospero’s island.

The first timid surges of love between the noble Ferdinand, a passenger on the boat, and Miranda, Prospero’s daughter.

Ariel/Caliban. Depictions of Prospero’s elfin servant and the beastly Caliban.

The enamored pair yield to the triumphant fascination of passion. This is one of Tchaikovsky’s most fervent melodies.

Triumphant reunion, reconciliation, and setting sail. Frenzied passages lead to a brassy recapitulation of the woodwind chorale of the opening section.

Prospero throws off his power as a magician and leaves the island. The music returns to the soft strings and haunting horn calls of the opening.


Nikolai Rimsky-Korsakov (1844–1908)
45 minutes

Rimsky-Korsakov was born into an aristocratic family and was easily able to gain a position as a naval officer. However, his true love was music and from 1865 on he devoted himself to composing and teaching. He became one of a group of nationalist composers dubbed by the critic Stasov “The Mighty Five”; the other four being Balakirev, Borodin, Cui, and Mussorgsky. Rimsky’s reputation among academics is based primarily on his 15 operas, but concertgoers value his trio of orchestral showpieces composed consecutively in 1887–88: Capriccio espagnol, Scheherazade, and the Russian Easter Overture.

Although Rimsky referred to Scheherazade as a “symphonic suite” and it can indeed be analyzed as a four movement symphony, the program and descriptive titles supplied by Rimsky are an essential part of explaining the music. The basic premise is that the Sultan Shakhriar has become convinced of the basic faithlessness of women, so he has each of his wives executed after their first night of marriage. However, Scheherazade is able to save her life by telling the Sultan fascinating tales every night for 1001 nights. The four movements may be described musically as follows:

The Sea and Sinbad’s Ship. A stern brass theme in the key of E Minor representing the Sultan is followed by a series of woodwind chords, virtually identical to the opening of Mendelssohn’s music for A Midsummer Night’s Dream, which might be saying “Once upon a time,” and the solo violin with harp depicting Scheherazade. After this introduction the movement proper begins with the theme of the sea.

The Tale of Prince Kalendar. This scherzo movement, introduced by the Scheherazade theme, is comprised of a bassoon theme with four variations, a central march-like section with dialogues between trumpets and trombones, and a return of the theme and variations music.

The Young Prince and the Princess. The lyrical and quiet slow movement has a contrasting middle section with delicate percussion color.

The Festival at Baghdad. The Sea. The Ship Goes to Pieces on a Rock. The finale is a riot of orchestral color. The festivities at Baghdad are replaced by a musical acceleration representing the ship rushing toward a magnetic rock surmounted by a bronze horseman. The climax is reached with a grandiose restatement of the sea theme and a tam-tam smash as the ship sinks. The music of the introduction is recalled with the Sultan’s theme, now in a peaceful E Major, the Mendelssohn chords, and finally Scheherazade’s solo violin theme.