Salisbury Symphony: Melodies will soar on Oct. 15

Published 12:00 am Sunday, October 2, 2022

By Hunter Scott Safrit

Salisbury Symphony

SALISBURY — The Salisbury Symphony is beginning its 56th season performing in Rowan County. This will be the first full season of live performances since the COVID-19 pandemic. The musicians, staff and volunteers could not be more excited to begin presenting orchestral music in the community on a regular basis again.

The group’s premier concert, “Soaring Melodies,” is scheduled for Oct. 15 at Catawba College and will feature Florence Price’s First Violin Concerto and Rachmaninov’s Second Symphony.

“Pairing these works together just makes so much sense. Rachmaninov’s compositions are primarily based on musical traditions and harmony found in 19th century orchestral music while Price’s harmonic language is clearly of an 20th century American influence,” said Music Director and Conductor David Hagy. “The Rachmaninov is on my top ten list of recordings to have while stranded on a desert island. While I was unfamiliar with Price’s concerto, in my study of the score I found she has a unique harmonic language that goes along with some beautiful melodies that are short and sweet which contrast with the longer melodies found in the Rachmaninov.”

Melody, a necessary part of any composition, is especially important for this concert. Concert guests are guaranteed to hear something they will not soon forget. For David, it would be the final melody found in the Rachmaninov. This is the same melody he played in junior high school orchestra, loved immensely, and quickly purchased a recording for which so he could play along with the record at that melody.

A prolific composer during the 20th century, Price’s works were heard far less often than the level of their artistry really demanded both because she was a woman and person of color. In the 1980s, her manuscripts were donated by her daughter to the University of Arkansas and in 2009 many of her manuscripts were discovered in an abandoned house in St. Anne, Illinois. These events have stimulated a demand for playing and hearing her compositions. There has been, in the last decade, an effort to broaden the cultural representation in the American orchestra’s repertoire, which has resulted in Price’s music being played more often as well. Her first violin concerto presents a variety of short, beautiful melodic themes. Her composition for the violin reflects an understanding of the technical possibilities of the instrument, which is surprising since she was a pianist and organist, but she still writes sections of extreme difficulty.

Presenting the concerto with the orchestra will be violinist Lun Li of the Young Concert Artist group. YCA is a management firm that auditions musicians between the ages of 18 and 30. The symphony partnered with the organization to bring flutist Anthony Trionfo to perform Ibert’s Flute Concerto in 2019 for the first collaboration with a Young Concert Artist.

Lun Li, a native of Shanghai, won first prize in the 2021 Young Concert Artists Susan Wadsworth International Auditions, The Paul A. Fish Memorial Prize, the Buffalo Chamber Music Society Prize and was named John French Violin Chair at YCA. Additionally, he is also the recent joint winner of first prize at the Lillian and Maurice Barbash J.S. Bach Competition.

A pre-concert talk featuring Lun Li and Hagy will take place prior to the concert on Oct. 15 at 7 p.m. in the concert hall. More information can be found at or by calling 704.216.1513. Tickets for the concert are $15 for adults and $5 for anyone under the age of 21. Balcony for a buck and senior rates are available   the day of the performance.

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