November 17, 2022 7:30 pm, Capitol Theatre – Wheeling, WV
At “Foley, Kim and a Mayer Masterpiece,” we will examine together two very specific time periods: Europe in the 19th century and America today. Three of the composers on this concert are all almost exact contemporaries. Giovanni Bottesini lived in Italy from 1821-1889; Johannes Brahms in Germany from 1833-1897; and Emilie Mayer, also in Germany, from 1812-1883. The 1800s in Western Europe was a golden age for Romantic symphonic music. Beethoven, Brahms, Mendelssohn, Schumann, Schubert, Wagner, Liszt, Chopin, Berlioz, Verdi, Dvorak, Puccini among many others rose to fame during this time.
The above list of composers contains many “household names,” but Emilie Mayer is certainly not among them. With this concert, the WSO argues that she should be! Her music is incredible art, and belongs in the conversation of great orchestral symphonic work directly next to Beethoven, Mendelssohn, Schubert and Schumann, with whom she shares many stylistic similarities. Music Director John Devlin has done an exploration of Mayer’s orchestral works and has decided to present this, her Symphony No. 5, as the one that is most striking. It follows the format of a traditional four-movement symphony, and is completely imaginative, powerful and filled with narrative.
The Mayer Symphony will pair beautifully with the Brahms Tragic Overture, a piece written just thirty years later. The Tragic Overture is one of a set of shorter orchestral works by Brahms that have embedded themselves in orchestras’ repertoire. Other similar pieces are his Academic Festival Overture and his Haydn Variations. The Tragic contains all of the storminess, rhythmic excitement, and gorgeous melodiousness we have come to expect from the symphonies, but in a compact, concert-opening format. Brahms, next to Shostakovich, is Maestro Devlin’s second favorite composer, and it is easy to hear why!
The core of our program will be to again highlight great American talent and we are so lucky to be able to present the duo of Xavier Foley on bass and Eunice Kim on violin. They will perform two works: a showpiece by the aforementioned Bottesini—one that will deliver spectacular musical moments throughout and a high level of virtuosity from both players. And the other, a piece composed by Mr. Foley himself and co-commissioned by Carnegie Hall, the New World Symphony and the Sphinx Foundation. The work was created to mark the 400 years of slavery since the arrival of the slave ship “White Lion” in Jamestown, Virginia. The WSO and the City of Wheeling are delighted to welcome both Xavier and Eunice to the Friendly City.