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Passports, Please! – October 24, 2023

Travel with the LSO

“Travel is much better this way”

In the printed concert program, Executive Director Raylene Carter put it succinctly, “Music has a magical ability to transcend languages and tonight’s concert demonstrates that beautifully. In this setting, we dismiss the normal pangs of physical travel and simply float directly to our euphonious destinations.”

Here are a few casual photos of audience members with their friends and family before the concert. The buzz of numerous conversations and happy interactions between concert goers added to the pleasant atmosphere.

At the same time, the musicians were on stage warming up. Here are a few photos of Dania Lane, the LSO harpist as she was tuning her harp.  Did you know that a harp is tuned quite often? The other large stringed instrument in this concert was the piano. It gets professionally tuned before a performance and doesn’t require to be tuned quite as much as a harp. This is because a harp is regularly moved while a piano is not.

Here, you can see the tuning key in Dania’s right hand and the chromatic tuner on the screen. The screen helps her see the tuning visually so it can be precisely tuned even in a noisy concert hall.

Where will we start?

From beginning to end, this was a wonderful concert! The LaGrange Symphony Orchestra, conducted by Maestro Richard Prior, rode into this concert at full gallop filled with western spirit. The American sound is expansive, energetic, and rhythmic and the LSO brought it! This was a rousing rendition of Aaron Copland’s Hoe-Down from Rodeo.

Rodeo is a ballet dance suite written in 1942. Hoe-Down is the fourth movement in that suite and is by far the most popular. It captures a vivaciousness that is profoundly American.

Copland discovered his perfect theme in a transcribed version of a traditional fiddle tune called Boneparte’s Retreat. This version of the song, by W. Stepp, doesn’t sound much like the traditional version. In the fiddle playing realm, notes are guidelines that one follows by ear. The musician is free to improvise upon those notes according to how they feel at that particular moment. It is a common saying that many fiddlers don’t play any tune the same way twice. Perhaps that’s why no one seemed to mind that Copland used it.

Most concertgoers instantly recognized this piece. The familiarity, however, did not come from attending the ballet Rodeo, but rather from simply watching television. This melody has been used commercially… If you prefer bold, danceable, happy and energetic flavors in your music, then Aaron Copland’s Hoe-Down IS what’s for dinner!

Passports, Please! LSO Travel concert

Where to next?

The next stop was Finland with Jean Sibelius’ Karelia Suite. The area of Karelia was ceded to the Soviet Union after the Winter War around 1940. Sibelius, like many of his countrymen, was passionate about this area.

From an economical and strategic viewpoint, it is highly desirable real estate. The area of Karelia, however, is a place in which Fins consider to be the heart of Finnish culture.

The LSO performed the traditional three movements of Intermezzo, Ballade, and Alla marcia of the Karelia Suite. This work was new to the LSO stage. It was beautifully played and intently received. Hopefully we will get a chance to hear this again.

Onward to France

Moving on to France, Erik Satie’s Gymnopedie No. 1 set a calming mood. Satie was a pianist, and this piece was originally composed for a single piano. The mood throughout this music was lovely and melancholy, simple, personal, transparent, uplifting and hopeful. It was played with gentleness and care. The ambiance created through it melded sublimely with the concert artwork.

Another leg of the trip

Floating now to Mexico, the atmosphere reawakened. Arturo Marquez and his Danzon No. 2 was performed to perfection. A picture is worth a thousand words, so a video snippet of this piece can speak much louder than any description could. Here, below is a snippet from the LaGrange Symphony Orchestra’s fabulous 2023 performance of Danzon No. 2 by Arturo Marquez. Enjoy!

Not the end of the journey

Of course this journey was not complete without a visit to England! Next was Ralph Vaughan Williams’ Symphony No 2 (A London Symphony).

Maestro Richard Prior gave the audience much insight into who Ralph Vaughan Williams was, who he shared ideas with, and how things were different back in 1914. He also mentioned a few things to notice within the music like the chiming of Big Ben.

The London Symphony is a portrait of London life. Originally much longer, the composer revised and shortened it several times. The end result is a major work that captures and keeps your attention much like the city. It also entranced the audience as they burst into applause after only the first movement. The first movement has a flamboyant ending. It is quite different from the actual Finale, which is much more delicate.

Through many scenes from bustling sidewalks to foggy nights, Williams captures his adopted city within the music. The LSO interpreted his intent splendidly. This symphony ends weightlessly. Each of the increasingly light notes hang suspended in air as if our journey weren’t quite over.

Watch for possible video snippets of this LaGrange Symphony Orchestra performance of A London Symphony to be posted later in November.

More to come within 2023’s last two months

The year of 2023 is still full of musical experiences from the LaGrange Symphony Orchestra. A Candlelight Concert will be held Sunday evening, November 19th at Pure Life House of Music at 206 Clark Street (LaGrange, GA) that will feature four LSO musicians and a fantastic repertoire from the Netflix series Bridgerton. This event is sponsored by the Symphony Guild and tickets are available online at the PureLife website. (

On Tuesday, December 12th the LaGrange Symphony Orchestra presents Jolly Jingles – a Family Holiday Experience in Callaway Auditorium beginning at 7:30PM. Tickets are available HERE. This concert features select musicians of the LSO with musicians from the LaGrange Symphony Youth Orchestra. The youth String Ensemble will also make an appearance. It will be a terrific holiday experience for the whole family!


2023/2024 LaGrange Symphony Orchestra Sponsors

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at LaFayette Square


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© LaGrange Symphony Orchestra 2023/2024 | All rights reserved | 706.882.0662 | Richard Prior, Music Director & Conductor