From the Podium: Festa Italiana

Published on: January 20, 2015

Buon Anno Peoria!

And what better way to celebrate the New Year than with a concert by the PSO, especially one that takes us to far away places – away from the current temperatures. In this upcoming program you will experience the glory, the spirit, and the joy that is Italy. In this splendid program of Baroque and Baroque-inspired work (plus a film composer thrown in), you will be able to sit back, relax, and take a dreamy trip with us to that wonderful land.

We start in Venice, that city of beauty and culture, and beautiful Saint Mark’s Basilica. With so much history and music made here over the centuries, I thought it fitting for us to begin with a wonderful work inspired by Venice’s patron saint.

Tomaso Albinoni was a native of Venice, one of the most fertile centers of Baroque instrumental music. While still in his 20s, he began publishing collections of instrumental pieces — sonatas and concertos—that became popular across Europe, rivaling the phenomenal popularity of composers like Corelli and Vivaldi. Albinoni himself became a widely-traveled performer who was sought after as a violin soloist – so much so, that for a time there was a fraudulent but very successful “Albinoni impersonator” touring through Germany! His Concerto St Marc evokes all of the noble character, joy, and wonder that is Venice. Guest PSO Principal Trumpet Aaron Romm performs on the Piccolo Trumpet, bringing the angelic sounds of St Mark’s to Peoria.

Everyone loves the Music of Antonio Vivaldi. You will adore his Flute Concerto entitled “La Tempesta di Mare” – a storm at sea. From the very beginning you will hear the rhythmic energy and verve of the running notes representing the wind and rain. Each entrance of the solo flute line becomes more ornate and decorative, creating a sense of the storm’s growing intensity. PSO Principal Flute John McMurtery brings it to life with his refined, virtuoso playing and exciting technical display!

Have you ever heard of Nino Rota? No? I bet you have heard his music though. He is the composer of the film scores for The Godfather Trilogy and also was Riccardo Muti’s composition teacher. His Trombone Concerto is a virtuoso work that epitomizes the expressive quality of post-WW2 Italian musical style. PSO’s virtuoso Principal Trombone Mark Babbitt leads us through this Italian brass adventure.

Arcangelo Corelli was one of the leading figures of the Italian Baroque era. History remembers him as the “Father of the Concerto Grosso.” His Concerto Grosso, Opus 6, #1 represent the zenith of his abilities. You will enjoy hearing the PSO strings perform this delightful, charming, virtuoso work.

Ottorino Respighi towers above all others as the reigning Italian composer of the Twentieth‐Century. Yet, he always looked back to past styles and eras for his inspiration. In his Three Botticelli Paintings, he evokes three famous paintings by the Italian master with delightful sonic coloring, intriguing texture, and inspiring expressiveness. If one could hear a painting, this would be the music to achieve that. All of the PSO principals come together to delight you with this virtuoso orchestral piece!

I hope you will join us for this wonderful Festa Italiana. It’s a feast of great music served in just the right amount to create a joyous start to the New Year. Buon Appetito!!!



George Stelluto, Music Director of the Peoria Symphony Orchestra


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