Illinois Philharmonic Orchestra to perform Classical II concert
By Don Snider January 16, 2013 1:46PM
Classical II will be the second Illinois Philharmonic Orchestra program led by David Danzmayr since he was named the group's music director. | NedThePhotographer.com photo
◆ 8 p.m. Jan. 19
◆ Lincoln-Way North Performing Arts Center, 19900 S. Harlem Ave., Frankfort
◆ Tickets, $35-$55, or $5 for students with identification
◆ (708) 481-7774; ipomusic.org
◆ The Illinois Philharmonic Orchestra under maestro David Danzmayr will perform music by George Frideric Handel, Claude Debussy, Benjamin Britten and Ralph Vaughan Williams.
Updated: February 19, 2013 12:44PM
Hal Grossman knows a bit about water. For two decades he was on the faculty of the Interlochen Center for the Arts between two lakes and near Michigan’s Traverse Bay.
And he’s crossed the Atlantic Ocean many, many times to perform in European concerts.
But he’s best known in the Southland for being the Illinois Philharmonic Orchestra’s concertmaster for the last 17 years.
As concertmaster, he’s the principal violinist who sits at the conductor’s immediate left, leads the orchestra in tuning and comes on stage individually.
Grossman also has dazzled IPO patrons with his own violin virtuosity.
He will display both of his talents — concertmaster and violinist — for the IPO’s Jan. 19 concert Classical II in Frankfort.
“I’m thrilled that our concertmaster will be the soloist for January’s concert,” said the IPO’s new maestro, David Danzmayr.
“He is a very respected violinist who just recently played for successful concerts in Germany.
“Having an orchestra member as soloist gives an insight into the fantastic level of playing in the IPO, and therefore we will in future seasons include orchestra members as soloists on a regular basis.”
Grossman, in turn, said he is honored to be playing for Danzmayr.
“He is bringing a lot of energy and joy to the orchestra,” Grossman said of Danzmayr. “Everyone is excited about the direction of the orchestra.”
Having commuted for years from northern Michigan to the Southland, Grossman is now an assistant professor of violin at the University of Oklahoma.
But he said the distance is not deterring him from returning to the IPO.
Grossman will be the featured performer for “La Mer” (“The Sea”), the closing piece for the concert, which is inspired by the movement of water.
Other water pieces include George Frideric Handel’s “Water Music,” Benjamin Britten’s “Four Sea Interludes” (1945) from the opera “Peter Grimes” and Ralph Vaughan Williams’ “The Lark Ascending.”
Grossman said composer Claude Debussy’s “La Mer” is a “groundbreaking, virtuoso work. It’s a gigantic piece. You can’t end with anything else after playing it.”
The French-born Debussy completed the piece while he was on the English Channel in 1905 and described “La Mer” as three symphonic sketches for orchestra.
The piece’s three movements have been called masterful suggestions and subtlety in their rich description of the ocean.
Jan. 19’s IPO concert, the second program led by Danzmayr since he was named the orchestra’s music director, will open with “Water Music,” one of Handel’s three most famed compositions (along with “Messiah” and “Music for the Royal Fireworks”).
Handel first performed “Water Music” on a barge in the River Thames for King George in 1717.
The king reportedly enjoyed the piece so much that he had Handel return and play it twice more.
“Water Music” opens with a French overture and is divided into three suites.
Portions of “Water Music” have been used in pop music including the TV show “The Frugal Gourmet” and Disney World’s parade of sea creatures.
Also after intermission, the IPO will perform “The Lark Ascending,” a mesmerizing work in which the violin enters evoking the image of a lark in flight.
Williams sketched the work while watching troop ships cross the English Channel at the outbreak of World War I.
“I had only heard it a few times before I fell in love with it,” Grossman said. “It blankets you with the sound of waves.
“I’m glad to have the opportunity to perform this concert.”
That’s spoken like a devoted concertmaster.
Don Snider is a local freelance writer.