Conductor Scott Seaton of the Minot Symphony Orchestra is ranging from minimalist to dense and rich in his selections for Saturday's performance, "Minot Meets Mahler," at 7:30 p.m. in Ann Nicole Nelson Hall on the Minot State University campus.
The orchestra's first piece is "Lollapalooza" by contemporary American composer John Adams.
"It's a rhythmic, jazzy, fun piece," said Seaton. "Adams, using the brass section, based it on the syllables of 'Lollapalooza,' da-da-da-DAAH-da, and has the rest of the orchestra reflect it, highlighting and complementing this brass motive."
Next Seaton features a work from Finnish composer Jean Sibelius, "Karelia Suite."
"He's one of my favorite composers," Seaton said. "He provides a nice contrast between the Adams and Mahler. It's based on folk dances, with string textures that are thin and sparse, kind of quasi-minimalist sound. It's got a couple of gorgeous moments in it, a sort of pure cantabile (an Italian term describing a lyrical flow), with the strings singing. It gives you a moment to rest, like the slow movement of a symphony."
The main course of this musical feast is Mahler's Symphony No. 4, with DeVera Bowles the soprano soloist.
"Mahler is the first great conductor who is also a composer," Seaton said. "His work embodied the whole world in its themes. It has everything thrown together, but he has the ability to create intimate chamber moments. This piece is called 'Heavenly Delight,' and is based on a child's view of heaven."
Among the lines of the verse are "the angels bake the bread," and "Saint Martha must be the cook."
MSU faculty member Bowles sings only during the fourth movement, with the first three including such instruments as sleigh bells, triangle and glockenspiel. Mahler wrote the symphony between around 1900, with its first performance in 1901. It is now one of the most often-performed of his works, and Seaton himself first conducted it as a quarter-finalist in the 2010 Gustav Mahler International Conducting Competition in Bamberg, Germany.
"People should come because it's something new for the area, and, well, it's like hearing Beethoven's Fifth for the first time," he said. "It became so popular from somewhere, and this is Minot's opportunity to participate in bringing to life a composer new to the area. That's the Mahler, and I'm not sure that Adams has been played here either.
"It's a concert of familiar unfamiliarities."
Reservations may be made by calling 858-4228 or by email at firstname.lastname@example.org. Prices vary according to seating choice, with discounts for seniors, students and children. Credit cards are now accepted.
Symphony patrons are invited to joinsymphony member Erik Anderson and special guests for a pre-concert lecture in Ann Nicole Nelson Hall at 6:30 on the evening of the concert. This presentation will include an inside look at the symphony program for that evening and what to listen for during the performance. Admission is free.