By Katherine Karlson
The Binghamton Philharmonic Orchestra will serve up a pre-Thanksgiving feast for the ear and imagination on Nov. 12 when Maestro Daniel Hege conducts the orchestra and featured soloists in a program titled Green Places.
In contrast to what’s happening outside — the natural world moving into its annual hibernation —the concert at The Forum in downtown Binghamton promises to be a pleasant respite to reflect on the vitality and optimism of spring through a variety of energetic musical selections.
The program features a living American composer, two 19th century British contemporaries and the unique genius of Beethoven.
“We’re making it diverse with a wide variety of composers and eras,” Hege said.
Samuel Coleridge-Taylor’s Novellette, Op. 52, No. 4 is an ideal curtain-raiser. These pieces are miniatures that communicate an emotion in the same way a letter or short poem does, Hege explained recently.
“It’s tuneful, confident music. It has high energy that’s full of life and a kind of electricity,” he added.
“Coleridge-Taylor was considered a musical prodigy — he was admitted to the Royal Conservatory of Music in London at age 15 — and although he died at age 37, he achieved so much in such a short time,” Hege said.
After this appetizer, the musical banquet continues with Green Places by contemporary composer Gary Schocker. The Binghamton Philharmonic’s principal flutist, Karen Bogardus, will solo.
“It’s quite virtuosic for the flutist with three distinct movements, including one with the feel of an Irish jig, which is followed by a slower movement,” Hege said.
“It’s exciting that Karen Bogardus will perform this music that sounds almost cinematic; it evokes an energy that gives everyone the license to imagine something different,” he added.
The first half of the concert will conclude with a thoroughly English first course: The Lark Ascending by Ralph Vaughan Williams featuring the orchestra’s concertmaster, violinist Uli Speth.
“Coleridge-Taylor and Williams were born only three years apart, and both studied at the Royal Conservatory. They had similar musical knowledge but such different life experiences,” Hege said.
“Williams was more interested in the idiom of folk music,” he added.
The main course will be Ludwig van Beethoven’s Symphony No. 4. In 2020, for Beethoven’s the 250th birth anniversary, the Binghamton Philharmonic had planned to perform all nine of his symphonies throughout the year. They had completed the first three before the pandemic shutdown canceled the remainder of the year’s program.
“We’re picking up where we left off,” Hege said.
He noted that this symphony is sometimes overshadowed by the two on either side of it.
“It’s just as ingenious as the Third, which broke the mold with its scale, length and development. The Fourth brims over with positivity and simplicity and is straightforward in its youthful vigor that reminds us of spring. It has wit and wisdom and is more jocular,” he added.
Hege likens a great musical program to a great meal. “Each taste has to complement the one you just had,” he said.
There will be a pre-concert chat at 6:30 p.m. in the Recital Hall of The Forum by SUNY Broome Prof. Julia Grella O’Connell, DMA, entitled “Geographies of the Lost World: From Beethoven to Ralph Vaughan Williams.”
IF YOU GO: The Binghamton Philharmonic Orchestra’s “Green Places” concert will begin at 7:30 p.m. Saturday, Nov. 12, at the Broome County Forum Theatre, 236 Washington St., Binghamton. Ticket prices are $20, $25, $35 and $65. Students with ID pay 50% and children under 17 are free. Call the BPO box office at 607-723-3931 ext. 1, from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. weekdays, or purchase tickets online at binghamtonphilharmonic.org.