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Lansing Symphony's Spooky Season Opener

Timothy Muffitt photo
Courtesy: Timothy Muffitt
Lansing Symphony Orchestra

Michigan classical fans may have noticed that the Lansing Symphony’s season is off to a late start. That’s because this past summer’s new roof project at the Wharton Center meant pushing back a few weeks. But WKAR’s Jamie Paisley spoke with Maestro Timothy Muffitt about how the LSO used the October start to its advantage.

"If we're going to open our season in October, we might as well have some fun with it an embrace the season of the supernatural, and macabre, and otherworldly that is October."

From the early 20th century comes a Spanish and gypsy inspired work for mezzo-soprano and orchestra by Manuel de Falla called El amor brujo, or Love, the Magician. Friday’s mezzo Muffitt met during his summers at the Chautauqua Institute when she sang Carmen. And that singer is Amanda Lynn Bottoms.

"I have great fondness for this music, but it takes a singer with incredible gravitas and personality. The story is such a wild story and you have to have a person that's got a little bit of fire inside of them to really make this piece speak. And literally from a few phrases of Carmen, I thought: 'There's Candela.'"

The LSO’s season-opening concert begins, however, with a Vampire. The little known Der Vampyr Overture by Heinrich Marchner, which debuted the year after Beethoven passed.

"More maybe Schumann than Schubert." says Muffitt. "It's very dramatic, it's about a Vampire! So, there's a lot of drama in it. But it's that early Romantic style that the audience will recognize."

But the bulk of Friday night’s season-opening Lansing Symphony concert at the Wharton Center is spent with music that Leonard Bernstein called the first musical exploration into Psychedelics. And he’s right since Hector Berlioz put himself under the influence while composing his Symphonie Fantastique.

"If we're going to open our season in October, we might as well have some fun with it an embrace the season of the supernatural, and macabre, and otherworldly that is October." - Maestro Timothy Muffitt

"Along comes the Berlioz Symphonie Fantastique which is unlike anything the world has ever heard before." says Muffitt. "And it still today, to me, sounds avant garde in many ways. It's just such a remarkable creation in terms of pulling musical ideas out of nowhere."

In regards to what may be his favorite movement, Muffitt singles out the middle portion. "The third movement with the call and response of the English horn and the oboe and the shepherd and the shepherdess, I find that movement to be quite compelling just in it's beauty and dramatic sense and the beautiful story that it tells. And then after you've gone through these variations, what began with a dialogue between a shepherd and a shepherdess is now just the shepherd and the shepherdess has long gone, and there's that wonderful sense of loneliness which concludes the movement. And the four timpani playing the distant thunder, the sounds of distant thunder, I think that's really remarkable music."

Maestro Timothy Muffitt and the Lansing Symphony’s season-opening concert serves up the spooky Friday night in the Wharton Center at 8pm. Tickets start at $20 and more info can be found online at LansingSymphony.org

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