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Giving a Good Impression

By Jennie McKeon

After Beethoven and Brahms, the Pensacola Symphony Orchestra has a French lesson to impress upon its audience.

“All of the pieces on this concert have the theme of youthfulness,” said Peter Rubardt, music director and the night’s conductor.

The night’s music will be comprised of “Mother Goose Suite,” by Ravel, “Requiem,” by Faure and “Symphony in C,” by Bizet.

“French music is unique because it uses harmonic color as well as interpretive freedom to create a rich orchestral sound,” said Principal Flutist Stephanie Riegle.

Katie Ott, a harpist who has been with the symphony for 10 years, also said how vibrant French music can be.

“Anyone who attends the French Impressions concert is in for a real treat,” she said. “It’s like the world going from black and white into full color.”

The three symphonies are not only pleasing to the ear, but fit the youthfulness theme in one way or another.

“Mother Goose Suite” was originally written as a ballet and has been re-orchestrated as a standalone piece.

“Ravel wrote his ‘Mother Goose Suite’ as a piano duet for the children of his close friends, and each movement is based on a character or story from the beloved nursery rhymes,” Rubardt said.

“Symphony in C” was actually written by a 17-year-old as a student assignment, and has been regarded as genius for someone his age.

“I guess nobody told him how hard it is to write a symphony, because he tossed it off effortlessly, as only a kid can,” Rubardt said of Bizet. “The result is so charming and brilliant that I can only sigh, and muse about what I was doing when I was seventeen.”

Joining the symphony will be the Pensacola Children’s Chorus for Faure’s “Requiem.” Rubardt describes the piece as “one of the most hauntingly beautiful and beloved of all choral works.”

“Any time the Children’s Chorus sings it is a special event, but this time is truly unique,” Rubardt said. “The sound of pure young voices is perfect for Faure’s lush harmonies and melodies.”

In the 17 years that Riegle has been a part of the symphony, she has worked with the children’s chorus before, yet she always enjoys the chance to see Pensacola’s young choral talent.

“They are always thoroughly prepared and enchanting to hear. We are fortunate to have a children’s chorus of this caliber in Pensacola,” she said.

The concert also gives the young singers the chance to work with professional musicians.

“What I love most about music is that there is always more to learn and something more challenging,” said Ott. “It’s exciting to see children perform because the world of music is right at their fingertips.  They will have so much to gain and learn in their lifetime.”

Even after her 40 years of playing the flute and almost two decades with Pensacola Symphony Orchestra, Riegle is not jaded by stage performances and still gets excited for each event.

“I have the privilege of working with very talented musicians and an inspiring conductor,” she said. “Together we have the unique experience of connecting with the audience through live music.”

For Ott, rehearsals are just a tease until she can finally perform for an audience.

“There is a certain tempo and momentum that occurs starting at our first rehearsal—the climax comes at the concert,” she said. “I feel the audience gives the musicians the final spark that lights the fire in our performance.”

FRENCH IMPRESSIONS
WHEN: 8 p.m. Saturday, Nov. 3
WHERE: Saenger Theatre, 118 S. Palafox
COST: $20-$82
DETAILS: pensacolasymphony.com or 435-2533