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Salisbury Symphony demonstrates increasing reach of its repertoire


Dr. William Christie

William Christie is a former professor of linguistics and dean of the college at Catawba College. He is also a historian (“1941: The America that Went to War”) and at one time played a pretty mean jazz trumpet.

By William Christie For the Salisbury Post


One of the great pleasures of a long-time attendee of Salisbury Symphony concerts has been the opportunity to hear the continued maturation of the orchestra under the leadership of Maestro David Hagy. Maestro Hagy’s tenure here has been marked not just by steady growth in the artistic quality of the ensemble, but also by an expanded repertoire embracing less familiar and more challenging works.  Saturday’s concert reflected both aspects of the orchestra’s growth.

A solid and comfortable foundation to the program was provided by several pieces familiar from movies and the theater. In addition to Erich Korngold’s 1938 score to “The Adventures of Robin Hood “and John Williams’ “Hymn to the Fallen” from “Saving Private Ryan,” the audience responded enthusiastically to the finale to Rossini’s overture to “William Tell,” the familiar theme from the television program “The Lone Ranger.”

Toward the end of the program selected members of the All-County Band and the Youth Orchestra joined in with the regular section members of the orchestra. As in previous family concerts, the Fifth Grade Honors Chorus came on stage to perform “Thank You, Soldiers” by Souders and Souders and “The Impossible Dream” from “The Man of La Mancha.” The latter piece included passages that were a challenge to fifth-grade voices, and it was gratifying to hear how well the chorus met those challenges.

Diversity in style was provided in three pieces written and performed by Kyle Petty: “Hard Times,” “Movie Cowboys,” and “I Promise Always.” Petty gave us yet another sample of his talent and versatility with writing and performance of high quality. John Stafford’s orchestration, both accessible and well suited to the melodies, was exceptionally fine.

The increasing reach of the symphony’s repertoire could be seen in two pieces that provided the artistic pinnacle of the program. Aaron Copland’s seldom-performed “John Henry” (which, incidentally, also made a movie appearance in Spike Lee’s 1998 film “He Got Game”) is filled with rich textures in passages that gave high exposure to soloists from the wind and brass sections. The result was a rewarding and enjoyable performance.

The emotional peak of the evening had to be “Elegy for Anne Frank” by Lukas Foss, featuring the sensitive playing of Renee McCachren in the piano solo. The narration was gently and evocatively provided by Ava Holtzman, who is almost exactly the same age as Anne Frank was when she died at Bergen-Belsen and who will be playing the role of Anne Frank in the St. Thomas Players’ production later this month. The first section of the elegy begins with a quiet melody that passes into a simple tune, much like a nursery song, evocative of the innocence of childhood. It is cut off by the middle section, a hideously but fittingly distorted version of “Die Fahne Hoch,” the anthem of the Nazi party. Following the narration, a second simple theme emerges, truncated and soft, a mere hint of hope for humanity. The listener knows what has happened in the interval.

Maestro Hagy is to be thanked and congratulated for providing a musical afternoon that combined familiar pleasures with a wide cultural reach.

After a visit by the North Carolina Symphony on March 9, the Salisbury Symphony will offer three more concerts this year: the magnificent Verdi “Requiem” on April 9, a pops concert featuring the works of Gershwin on May 13, and the traditional Pops at the Post on June 3.

This orchestra merits the support of the whole community at all of these performances, and the audience will unquestionably find the programs thoroughly rewarding.


William Christie is a former professor of linguistics and dean of the college at Catawba College.  He is also a historian (“1941: The America that Went to War”) and at one time played a pretty mean jazz trumpet.








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