What the Devil? The Omaha Symphony performs “Conga-Line In Hell” ? Huh? The answers to these questions and more lie in wait at the next Symphony Joslyn concert. Re that title, it comes from Uruguayan composer Miguel del Aguila who wrote the piece in 1994 evidently just for kicks. It’s bound to seem grotesque and wild because, given where the dancers are “they have no reason to hold back” says program-book annotator Paul Schiavo.
As for what this item is doing here, something by Franz Schubert may prompt it. On tap is his overture to a spooky opera Des Teufels Lustschloss (“The Devils Pleasure Castle”) which concerns a young bride and groom trapped in such a haunted place where a temptress tries to get her claws on the young man. The music can get rather intense. No surprise there.
This event is sub-titled “Something Old, Something New, Something Borrowed…” Another old composition is by J. S. Bach, the sinfonia from his Cantata No. 18 “Just as Rain and Snow Fall from Heaven.” Get it? Cold stuff from up above in contrast to fiery heat from below. “Surprising deep beauty,” comments Schiavo.
The “borrowed” element is from 1976 by Estonian ground-breaker Arvo Pärt wherein he re-works some of Bach’s “The Well-Tempered Clavier” into Wenn Bach Bienen gezütet hatte…(“If Bach Had Raised Bees…”). Pärt is well-known for his love of such early music and for what has been described as “mystical minimalism.” The sound and concept could cause a lot of buzz.
And a mixture of light and dark, heat and warmth characterize Felix Mendelssohn’s Symphony No. 1 which is also part of the picture.
The visiting conductor is Ken-David Masur who, now evidently in his mid-30s, is assistant conductor of the Boston Symphony Orchestra and associate conductor of the San Diego Symphony. He is responsible as well for a critically-acclaimed recording of cantatas and symphonies by the Bach family, including J.S. Speaking of family, his father is world-renowned Kurt Masur. What else on the program connects him to the music? Consider this: he got a Grammy nomination from the Latin Recording Academy for the CD Salon Buenos Aires. You can bet he has some feeling for Latino swaying and stomping. You might consider him an element of the “Something New” part of the experience.
This concert in the Symphony Joslyn series is Sunday, March 8 at Joslyn Art Museum’s Witherspoon Hall, 2200 Dodge St. 2 p.m. Tickets: $33. www.omahasymphony.org