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Lansing Symphony To Cross Borders In Season Opener

Timothy Muffitt photo
Courtesy photo
Lansing Symphony Orchestra

This Thursday night marks the start of the Lansing Symphony Orchestra’s new season of concerts at the Wharton Center. WKAR’s Jamie Paisley sat down with Maestro Timothy Muffitt to talk about how this concert crosses borders while bringing a successful violinist back home to Lansing.

Jamie Paisley: For this first Masterworks concert, Thursday night at 7:30, to me, it seems to deal greatly with the crossing of musical borders, from the French to the latin by way of Camille Saint-Saens Havanaise to the Poeme of Ernest Chausson and a couple of other composers. Was that what you were aiming for in this first concert?

Timothy Muffitt: Yeah, there's a little bit of that. I love exploring the ripples outside of the epicenter of Ravel and Debussy. And so, this is a program that has no Ravel and Debussy on it, but it is really tied into that. So we have two composers right around that same time and place and where much of the stylistic language evolved out of those languages. And then we see the ripple effect across borders, as you said, with Manuel De Falla, the Spanish impressionist composer and Ottorino Respighi, the Italian. There is a connection between all these works which comes from that epicenter, but this is our season opener, so we were looking for very colorful engaging music. For, hopefully, people coming for the first time, will come away thinking 'I want some more of that.'

JP: The soloist that is going to be playing those pieces in the first half, she is a local one.

TM: Yes. You know, every year we try to feature someone from the area who's gone on and done great things in music and there's a huge inventory of those people. And we're really thrilled to be bringing back Melissa White, she played with us a number of seasons ago. She's a Lansing native, a fantastic violinist and has gone on to become- was the founder of the Harlem String Quartetand has had a great career as a chamber musician and as a soloist and it's really exciting to have her back with us.

JP: And she was also a winner of the Sphinx Competition.

TM: Right.

JP: That group from over in eastern Michigan, Detroit, Ann Arbor, champions of ensuring black and latinx have a growing presence in classical music.

TM: Right. Sphinxis doing really great work building the diversity in classical music, which has, you know, been an issue for a long time, and they're really doing some wonderful work and Melissa is a part of that.

JP: And for the entire 2nd half of this Thursday night’s Lansing Symphony Orchestra season opener, you’re going au natural in Italy.

TM: [Laughs] Right, so we have Pines of Rome of Respighi, which is a certainly uniquely glorious experience in music. There's nothing else quite like it out there. Even in the other tone poems of Respighi.

JP: The Rome Trilogy.

TW: Right. They're fantastic, of course, but this is a work that really stands by itself. You know, this may seem obvious to some, but when we hear a title repeated over, and over, and over, and over again, we lose track of it's original intent. And this is a piece of music about trees and how they interact with the environment. So very appropriate for Michigan, right?

JP: As we're just entering our third autumn.

TM: Right! Yes. This is about the glory of nature. This is music about nature.

Maestro Timothy Muffitt leads the Lansing Symphony and guest soloist, returning home to Mid-Michgan for this concert, violinist Melissa White. Tickets and More Information at LansingSymphony.org

De Falla: "The Three-Cornered Hat" Suite No.2
Saint-Saens: Havanaise
Chausson: Poeme for violin and orchestra
Respighi: Pines of Rome

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