What: CSO season finale
When and where: 8 p.m. Saturday, April 27, at Tivoli Theatre, 709 Broad St.; 3 p.m. Sunday, April 28, at VW Conference Center, 7351 Volkswagen Drive
Admission: $19-$81 Saturday, $25 Sunday
The Chattanooga Symphony & Opera will close out the 2012-13 season with a concert referencing two giants of the music world: Elvis and Mahler.
The showpiece is the Austrian composer's dramatic Symphony No. 5. Contemporary composer Michael Daugherty will offer two fun works: "Motown Metal" and "Dead Elvis." The latter features guest artist Benjamin Kamins on bassoon.
The concert will be presented Saturday night, April 27, at the Tivoli Theatre and repeated Sunday afternoon, April 28, at the VW Conference Center. CSO Music Director Kayoko Dan will conduct both performances.
The CSO has performed several works by Daugherty this season, and he is in town this week to work with university and high school students to discuss his process and influences.
"Motown Metal" will open the concert. The 1994 work for brass and percussion was inspired, Daugherty says, by the assembly-line rhythms of industrial Detroit, a city known for both automobile clamor and '60s Motown sounds.
"The composition highlights instruments made only of metal: four horns, four trumpets, three trombones, tuba, vibraphone, glockenspiel, triangle, cymbal, gong, anvil and brake drum," he says in the program notes.
Next is Antonio Vivaldi's Concerto in B-Flat Major, a bassoon concerto subtitled "La Notte" (Night). Its movements include the lively "Il Fantasmi" (Ghosts) and the gentle but dark "Il Sonno" (Sleep). The last movement, "Sorge l'Aurora" (Raise the Dawn), is a cheerful conclusion with the signature Vivaldi sound.
The bassoon is the link between the Vivaldi piece and "Dead Elvis," in which Daugherty presents the bassoon soloist as an Elvis impersonator accompanied by a chamber ensemble. Through the use of a medieval Latin chant representing a Day of Judgment, the composer poses the question: Is Elvis dead or alive beyond the grave at Graceland?
"Elvis is part of American culture, history and mythology, for better or worse," Daugherty says in the program notes. "If you want to understand America and all its riddles, sooner or later, you have to deal with (Dead) Elvis."
The final work is Gustav Mahler's Symphony No. 5, which veered sharply from his four previous efforts and took longer to become a concert staple, according to CSO officials.
Its famous "Adagietto" has been excerpted many times and is the movement most concertgoers will recognize. Moviegoers may remember it from the soundtrack of "Death in Venice."