Oct. 26, 2002 – The Puerto Rico Symphony Orchestra makes its fourth annual journey to St. Thomas to perform on Nov. 2 at the Reichhold Center for the Arts. This appearance, like the three before it, is a presentation of the Birch Forum.
The program will open with the Overture to Mozart's opera "The Magic Flute," followed by a Bruch Concerto for violin and orchestra with Henry Hutchinson, the orchestra's first violinist, as soloist. Following intermission, the final work will be Beethoven's Seventh Symphony.
Mozart wrote "The Magic Flute" in 1791, just after the French Revolution and just before he died. It is said that he composed the Overture the night before the opera's premiere. His vibrant melodies make the most of the fantasy tale of conflict between the cosmic forces of good and evil. The music, it has been said, is "Mozart at his most serious and most playful."
Bruch composed his Concerto for violin and orchestra in 19th century, in the waning years of the Romantic period.
Beethoven's four-movement Seventh Symphony, in A Major, Op. 92, written in 1813, is considered by many to be the best of the nine that he wrote, as well as his personal favorite. With its simple rhythms leading to a number of melodious and interwoven themes in the Viennese classical style, the work conveys angst and anger, despair and deliverance, all emotions that must have been well known to the composer as he was going deaf.
There is nothing else in the territory to compare with this annual opportunity to hear a classical orchestra — and the Reichhold Center setting makes the occasion even more special. "The majestic full symphony orchestra fills the stage, and their music fills the air," the Reichhold's Web site states. It describes the orchestra as "one of the most eminent in the Americas."
Sponsored by the government of Puerto Rico, the orchestra performs an annual 48-week season which includes symphonic concerts, operas, ballets and pops, educational and children's concerts. It also presents outdoor performances throughout the commonwealth and has educational outreach programs in Puerto Rico's public and private schools. Its members are represented by the American Federation of Musicians.
Guillermo Figueroa will conduct the orchestra for its St. Thomas appearance. A native Puerto Rican, he has since last year held the position of music director with both the PRSO and the New Mexico Symphony Orchestra in Albuquerque.
The Birch Forum, founded by Patti Birch, widow of the late St. Thomas attorney Everett Birch, has been underwriting classical music and other cultural arts programs in the territory since 1996.
"It is an immense undertaking to bring 80 musicians and their instruments here," Neil Prior, Birch Forum chair, said.
The musicians and instruments will arrive on island on by plane on Nov. 1. The musicians will stay for two nights at Marriott's Frenchman's Reef Beach Resort.
"This year promises to be the most exciting and popular program we've heard so far," Prior said. The orchestra played to a full house at the Reichhold Center in 2000 and seats were few and far between for the 1999 and 2001 programs.
Corporate sponsors of this season's concert are FirstBank, Frenchman's Reef, Shell Seekers, Choice Communications and Globalvest Management Co.
Tickets for the Nov. 2 concert are priced at $65 for the covered section, $30 for the lower uncovered seating and $5 for the upper open-air seats.
They are on sale at the Reichhold box office, UVI bookstore, Modern Music, Parrot Fish Music and Krystal & Gifts Galore on St. Thomas; and at Connections in Cruz Bay on St. John. They also may be ordered with a charge card by calling the Reichhold box office at 693-1559 on online at the Reichhold Center Web site.
Publisher's note : Like the St. John Source now? Find out how you can love us twice as much — and show your support for the islands' free and independent news voice … click here.