published Friday, March 18th, 2011

Guest conductor takes CSO through a land of ‘Pictures’


What: Chattanooga Symphony & Opera presents “Pictures at an Exhibition.”

When: 8 p.m. Thursday and March 25.

Where: Tivoli Theatre, 709 Broad St.

Admission: $19-$79.

Phone: 267-8583.


As a child, Kayoko Dan turned to music as a way to connect.

Born in Japan, Dan came to the United States when she was young and moved frequently. Even before she learned to speak English, she found out music could be a universal language.

“Singing in a choir or playing the piano was a way of communicating with people. I felt like I was part of a community in the classroom. When I couldn’t speak [the language], I felt like I was just an outsider, but with music I was able to belong.”

Dan is a candidate to take over as music director of the Chattanooga Symphony & Opera at the beginning of the 2011-2012 season. She currently serves as music director of the Central Kentucky Youth Orchestra.

This week, Dan will lead the CSO in a program titled “Pictures at an Exhibiton.” The titular work, composed by Modeste Mussorgsky and arranged by Maurice Ravel, has been paired with Ravel’s “Mother Goose Suite” and Claude Debussy’s “Prelude to the Afternoon of a Faun.”

“It’s so colorful,” said Dan of “Pictures.” “It depicts so many different moods, and ... highlights different soloists within the orchestra. The whole piece is just awesome.”

The 10-movement work was composed for piano and was inspired by Russian artist and architect Viktor Hartmann. Following Hartmann’s death at age 39, a collection of his work was displayed in the Museum of Fine Arts in St. Petersburg. Mussorgsky composed “Pictures” based on the exhibit.

Though there are multiple arrangements of the work, the most oft-played is by Ravel, and so Dan thought including another Ravel piece would be appropriate. “Ravel is very charming and very intimate,” she said, comparing his work to chamber music.

The five movements of the suite are each inspired by fairy tales — Tom Thumb and Sleeping Beauty, among others.

The final work of the evening is also by a French composer, Debussy, and continues the theme of music inspired by other works of art — this time, Stéphane Mallarmé’s 1876 poem “L’Après-midi d’un Faune.”

“This whole concert is color and orchestration,” Dan said. “Debussy is an impressionistic composer ... he will really transform [the audience] to a different atmosphere.” The pieces, she said, are well-suited for an audience who may not be as familiar with classical music.

“It’s not as intimidating to a younger audience,” she said.

about Holly Leber ...

Holly Leber is a reporter and columnist for the Life section. She has worked at the Times Free Press since March 2008. Holly covers “everything but the kitchen sink" when it comes to features: the arts, young adults, classical music, art, fitness, home, gardening and food. She writes the popular and sometimes-controversial column Love and Other Indoor Sports. Holly calls both New York City and Saratoga Springs, NY home. She earned a bachelor of arts ...

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