Warren Philharmonic Presents ‘Dancing Spirits’ Concert

WARREN, Ohio – The Warren Philharmonic Orchestra will open its season with “Luminous and Dancing Spirits,” a concert featuring works by Felix Mendelssohn and his little-known sister, Fanny Mendelssohn Hensel, at 3 p.m. Sunday, Oct. 23 at First Presbyterian Church, 256 Mahoning Ave. NW, downtown.

Leading the 50-piece WPO will be music director and conductor Susan Davenny Wyner.

In addition to opening with “Overture” by  Mendelssohn Hensel, and closing with Felix Mendelssohn’s Italian Symphony, the program will include “Greek Dances” by Nikos Skalkottas, “Starodávný Slavonic Dance” by Antonín Dvořák, “Hoedown” by Aaron Copland, and “Ritual Fire Dance” by Manual De Falla.

Davenny Wyner said the program will cover a wide range of compositions.

Susan Davenny Wyner, music director and conductor of the WPO.

“What particularly excites me about this concert is the vibrant mix of styles and national characteristics along with the delicious surprise of hearing music by an extraordinary brother and sister who begin and end the program,” she said.

“Felix Mendelssohn’s music is well known, and his effervescent Italian symphony remains an irresistible favorite, but the music of his older sister Fanny is only now coming into its own,” she continued.

A brilliant pianist, Mendelssohn Hensel composed over 460 pieces. But in the 1800s – even with the support of her husband, court painter William Hensel, and her brother – women did not have public music careers, so her music was only performed at private  concerts.

The middle part of Sunday’s concert will feature contrasting dances.

“The strings will show off quirky rhythms in Skalkottas’ ‘Greek Dances’ and Copland’s “Hoedown,” Davenny Wyner said.

The whole orchestra will then “evoke mysterious Spanish spirits” in de Falla’s “Fire Dance,” she said.

In Dvorak’s piece, the composer “contrasts soulful lilting melancholy with lively interwoven sections,” Davenny Wyner said.

“I think it is interesting that Brahms adored Dvorak’s ‘Slavonic Dances’ and gave the younger man not only his friendship but helped him get his music published,” she said. “I feel we hear Brahms’ influence in the way Dvorak used the orchestra, particularly in this yearning and emotional Ukrainian dance.”

Tickets for the concert are $30 ($15 for students; free for children under age 13) and can be purchased at the door.

Pictured at top: The Warren Philharmonic Orchestra in performance at First Presbyterian Church in Warren.

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