Lansing Symphony Bringing France to Wharton Center

Jan 15, 2020

Maestro Timothy Muffitt of the Lansing Symphony came to the WKAR Studios to speak with classical host Jamie Paisley about this weekend's "Masterworks 4" concert with the LSO and how it aims to transport us during our usual mid-January doldrums in mid-Michigan.


Maestro Timothy Muffitt: We have such extraordinary players in the orchestra. Players who could be working anywhere in the globe. And so it's wonderful for us to feature them. It's good for the audience to meet the players this way. And so we kind of work our way through the orchestra and this was the time for Guy Yehuda, principal clarinet.

[Excerpt from Jean Francaix' Clarinet Concerto]

Of course there are a couple of very well known clarinet concerti, the Mozart is a good one, Nielsen has a nice one, but he had this idea for Francaix. And this was a composer that I knew as a wind composer. I just knew some of his chamber music for winds, I think. But I did not know this piece. So, I said, 'Okay, well, let me check it out.' On the first hearing, and I think our audience will feel the same way, it is an immediately appealing piece of music. It's a real romp through Paris, in a way.

[Excerpt from Jean Francaix' Clarinet Concerto]

With that, the rest of the program fell into place, an all-French program and how wonderful, here were are in the mid-Michigan, mid-January. We all want an escape. We're happy to be in Michigan, of course, but we want a little bit of an escape so we're going to take a little bit of a journey in Paris. And the sun will be shining there. Especially in the hands of Guy and this fantastic concerto by Francaix.

[Excerpt from George Gershwin's An American in Paris]

We all know George Gershwin's An American in Paris, but it's been very interesting to me to study that work at the same time that I'm studying a piece like this Francaix Concerto, and all of a sudden, passages of music that I've known so well, and heard, and studied countless times, I realize how French they are! And how Gershwin has really tapped into French sounding melodic-style, harmonic-style, and just energy and ambiance.

[Excerpt from George Gershwin's An American in Paris]

Each piece is it's own, presents its own set of challenges, and certainly the Dukas Sorcerer's Apprentice, which again is a very familiar work to listeners, but it's a very demanding work for the performers, but it is masterfully scored, and is a really inspired music from beginning to end. There's not a note out of place.

[Excerpt from Paul Dukas' The Sorcerer's Apprentice]

The Lansing Symphony under Maestro Timothy Muffitt featuring clarinetist Guy Yehuda
Saturday, January 18th at 7:30pm, Cobb Great Hall of the Wharton Center.
More information: LansingSymphony.org

The Lansing Symphony is an underwriter of WKAR.