Brought to you by the letter ‘B’!

Miami Valley Symphony Orchestra presents Bach, Beethoven and Brahms

By Gary Spencer

A classic piece of music is one that stands the test of time and endures for generations to come. In the case of classical icons such as Bach, Beethoven and Brahms, their works continue to be wildly popular centuries after those composers’ deaths and performed countless times by symphonies and orchestras all over the planet. These particular composers were masters at weaving intricate melodies, harmonies and dynamics that put them into a class of their own, light years ahead of the majority of their contemporaries, hence making their compositions easy targets for conductors and musical directors to consider when programming concerts. So when it came time to program the 2015-16 concert season for the Miami Valley Symphony Orchestra, a show that shined the spotlight on the three big “B”s was a no-brainer.

“Bach, Beethoven and Brahms were all master composers in their times, and their music continues to be popular with audiences today,” explains David Deitrick, conductor and musical director for the MVSO.  “When preparing the current concert season, one of my thoughts was to provide a varied experience for the musicians and the audience.  The fact that they were all German and their names began with the same letter just made a simplistic marketing ploy before marketing became big business.”

While from a marketing perspective staging a concert focusing on the “Three B’s” of classical music sounds like smart business, Deitrick makes it clear that while the names of Bach, Beethoven and Brahms are synonymous with some of the greatest works of the genre, their works are from different eras of music and in fact quite different from one another. Placing them side by side in a performance truly showcases what each composer brought to the musical table.

“I decided to end the season with a concert that spanned the Baroque, Classical and Romantic eras and the old ‘Three B’s’ idea seemed a perfect way to do that and continue the idea of varied programming,” Deitrick says. “The technical demands on the musicians are very different for each composer’s work, so this provides some of the variety I built into the season on a single program.  Although we’ve heard the ‘Three B’s’ idea for a long time, it isn’t very often that they all actually get performed on the same concert as the MVSO will do.”

As mentioned, the works of Bach, Beethoven and Brahms get a lot of air time in performances by orchestras and symphonies, some compositions get played more than others. In keeping with his concept of variety in programming, Deitrick has selected a mix of both well-known and obscure pieces by the three legendary composers that should make for a balanced yet nuanced single concert program that should please both knowledgeable aficionados and casual classical fans as well as the musicians themselves.

“I chose the Brahms’ Symphony No. 2 because it doesn’t get as many performances as 1, 3 or 4, and because I like the less weighty, pastoral quality of the work. [It] provides a great opportunity to stretch the orchestra,” Deitrick explains. “Bach’s Orchestral Suite No. 3 is a favorite of mine.  It is one of the most recognized of Bach’s non-sacred works, and includes the famous ‘Air for Strings.’ I chose Beethoven’s Coriolan Overture specifically because it doesn’t get as many performances and deserves to be heard in a live performance. It is important that we keep great music alive in the concert hall and not restrict our knowledge of works to recordings of them.”

Similar in concept to doing things differently in their concert repertoire, the MVSO is a bit different than most orchestras in the region. Formed in 1989, it was established as a nearly autonomous organization where skilled and passionate local musicians could volunteer their talent and time to perform both lauded and off the beaten path orchestral works for citizens of the Gem City at prices that everyday people can afford.

“Members play for the love of music, and they offer symphonic concerts at a cost that allows many people to attend,” Deitrick adds. “It is great outlet for our many talented musicians in the community. It is a part of the orchestra’s mission to keep prices low and the music accessible to a wide audience. This is only possible because the musicians volunteer their time and run the orchestra themselves.”

The MVSO hopes that classical music fans come out to share the joy of a live orchestral concert with the same passion that the Orchestra itself has playing them.

“The live experience is something that cannot be duplicated,” Deitrick says. “The immersion of yourself in a live concert is an act of being alive. I think great music and great art lift us to a higher plain of existence. That certainly is the case for me. We believe it can be for you.”

The Miami Valley Symphony Orchestra presents Bach, Beethoven and Brahms at 3 p.m. Sunday, May 1 at the Kettering Seventh Day Adventist Church, 3939 Stonebridge Rd. in Kettering. Advance tickets are $12 for adults and $10 for children and seniors. For more information, please visit mvso.org.

Gary Spencer is a graduate of Miami University and works in the performing arts, and believes that music is the best. Contact him at GarySpencer@DaytonCityPaper.com.

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Gary Spencer is a graduate of Miami University and works in the performing arts, and believes that music is the best. Contact him at GarySpencer@DaytonCityPaper.com

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