Young soloists bring new life to beloved classics.

The Omaha symphony offers Russian warmth.


Youth takes center stage in Omaha Symphony Orchestra concerts this month. There you can hear something by Moscow-born composer Elena Roussanova Lucas who wrote it when she was 26 years old.  It comes from a commission from the 2000 Las Vegas Music Festival, an evocation of her homeland, “Festival Celebration in a Russian Style, ” wherein she seeks to depict a country fair with a dancing circus bear, twirling acrobats, games-playing crowds and beautiful countryside stretching out beyond. Roussanova’s in Boston now and has created an impressive and varied array of pieces while teaching at Berklee College of Music and the Boston University College of Fine Arts.

Her fresh offering is one of seven parts of the Symphony’s two- evening Russian Music Festival, full of beloved works: Rachmaninoff’s “Rhapsody on a Theme of Paganini”, Tchaikovsky’s “Pathétique” Symphony and Mussorgsky/Ravel’s “Pictures at an Exhibition.”

Plus there’s the jolly ballet suite by Shostakovich, a superb violin concerto by Glazunov and a dramatic overture by Rimsky-Korsakov.

Roussanova’s sparkler Friday precedes Rachmaninoff’s, the work which many people feel is really a piano concerto. It vibrates with dynamic passages as well as the tender, beautiful 18th variation. Likewise Russian, the soloist is 30-year old Gleb Ivanov. (“Mr. Ivanov engulfed the keyboard, rattling the rafters and thrilling the audience.” — The Washington Times.)

Following it, Thomas Wilkins conducts Tchaikovsky’s brooding passion and powerful sorrow in a symphony which has touched multitudes of hearts.

Michigan’s 22 year old Caroline Goulding (“precociously gifted”- Gramophone Magazine) is at the center of Glazunov’s romantic, soulful and brilliant Violin Concerto on Saturday. Grammy-nominated Goulding has performed with the Cleveland Orchestra, the National Symphony, the Detroit Symphony, the Netherlands Philharmonic and many more.  

Thereafter comes Mussorgsky’s remarkable series of portraits given more color and vibrancy due to Maurice Ravel’s orchestrations, indelible impressions spanning centuries, living on.

There may be chilly winter nights this weekend, but vitality, warmth and beauty shine across the borders.

Omaha Symphony’s Russian Festival is performed Jan. 22 and 23 at Kiewit Hall, Holland Center, 1200 Douglas St.Fri. & Sat. 7:30 p.m. Tickets: $19-$70. www.omahasymphony.org


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