Chattanooga Now Masterworks kicks off season with music by Tower, Strauss, Rachmaninoff

Chattanooga Now Masterworks kicks off season with music by Tower, Strauss, Rachmaninoff

Conductor Kayoko Dan says 'Don Juan' showcases Chattanooga Symphony & Opera members at their best

September 22nd, 2016 by Casey Phillips in Chattnow Music

Guest pianist Ning An, a visiting artist from Lee University, will be featured on Rachmaninoff's Piano Concerto No. 2 during the opening-night performance of the Chattanooga Symphony & Opera.

Photo by Contributed Photo /Times Free Press.

If you go

› What: CSO Masterworks Series season opener, “Strauss and Rachmaninoff,” featuring guest pianist Ning An.

› When: 7:30 p.m. today, Sept. 22.

› Where: Tivoli Theatre, 709 Broad St.

› Admission: $21-$83.

› Phone: 423-267-8583.

› Website: chattanoogasymphony.org/event/opening-night-strauss-and-rachmaninoff.

Masterworks season

>› Oct. 20: Beethoven Choral Fantasy

› Nov. 17: Tchaikovsky Symphony No. 5

› Jan. 26: Dvorak Symphony No. 7

› March 2: Bartok Concerto for Orchestra

› April 6: Mozart and Mahler

› April 27: La Mer

Tonight’s program

* Joan Tower’s “Fanfare for the UnCommon Woman No. 2” (1987)

* Richard Strauss’ “Don Juan” (1888)

* Sergei Rachmaninoff’s Piano Concerto No. 2 (1900-1901)

With its expressive themes and grandiose orchestration, Richard Strauss' symphonic poem "Don Juan" is a truly mammoth example of Romantic composition.

Thanks to its technical complexity, Strauss' symphonic depiction of the legendary Spanish rogue makes frequent appearances at orchestral auditions. What better work to introduce the Chattanooga Symphony & Opera's Masterworks concert series than a piece that showcases its members at their best, says conductor Kayoko Dan.

"It's one of those pieces that we practice on our own for hours and hours and hours," Dan says. "Sometimes, it's nice to fit it all together and actually enjoy the fruit of your practice. It's the centerpiece [of the concert] for the CSO itself. It will feature every section and the principals. It will really highlight each player and show off what we've got."

The CSO will assail "Don Juan" during the season's inaugural concert tonight, Sept. 22, at the Tivoli Theatre. The symphony's Chamber series opener follows Sunday, Oct. 2, with "Musical Passport," and the Pops Series, "Mambo Kings," on Saturday, Oct. 8.

Fittingly for a season opener, this evening's performance will commence with "Fanfare for the UnCommon Woman No. 2," a horn-resplendent 1987 work by American composer Joan Tower.

After "Don Juan," the second half of the evening will be filled with Piano Concerto No. 2, a 40-minute Romantic work by Russian composer Sergei Rachmaninoff that will feature guest pianist and Lee University assistant professor Ning An.

The evening's selections are all new works for Dan, in her tenure as the CSO's conductor, a role she has held now for six seasons. In the case of the Strauss piece, in particular, this concert represents the fulfillment of a longtime wish, she says.

"'Don Juan' is one of those pieces that I've been wanting to conduct for a really long time, so I'm really excited about it," she says. "Strauss was a conductor as well as a composer, so his score is really fascinating because it has a lot of directions for us."

Dan says all six of the season's remaining Masterworks concerts will include unexpected musical twists and appeals, but she's especially excited about the Oct. 20 premiere of a new piece by Kendra D'Ercole, the March 2 performance by guest violinist Holly Mulcahy of a James Stephenson violin concerto and the season-concluding performance on April 27 of Claude Debussy's "La Mer."

"Debussy is my other favorite composer," she says, "Exploring his music is always a pleasure."

Contact Casey Phillips at cphillips@timesfreepress.com or 423-757-6205. Follow him on Twitter at @PhillipsCTFP.