Ten members of the Spoleto Festival USA Orchestra will showcase their talents at the second concert in the late-afternoon Intermezzo series on Saturday.
The 5 p.m. concert in the Simons Center Recital Hall, “Spotlight on the Orchestra,” will feature solo and small ensemble works.
“The performance will be a very high level of amazing virtuosity,” said John Kennedy, the festival’s resident conductor and director of orchestral activities. “It’s a chance for us to highlight them in a soloist capacity, outside of their rolls of playing in the orchestra.”
The 10 performers are all orchestra alumni with prior Spoleto experience. They will play seven selections: two pieces by Benjamin Britten (a trumpet fanfare and a harp suite); Bach’s Cello Suite No. 5 (featuring Kye-Yong Sarah Kwon); a string trio by the 20th century composer Jean Francaix; a pre-war “Theme and Variations” by Olivier Messiaen (featuring violinist Haerim Elizabeth Lee and pianist Benedicte Jourdois); a set of expressive contemporary miniatures for solo viola by the Hungarian composer (with Romanian roots) Gyorgy Kurtag (featuring Allyson Goodman); and a traditional Afghan tune for violin and orchestra (featuring Kim Mai Nguyen).
“It’s a lot about moods,” said Haerim Lee of the Messiaen composition. “The way Messiaen use sounds from very intense to very light and airy, it can seem a little strange at times, but it’s still very accessible.”
The works were selected collaboratively by Kennedy and the players. Some of the pieces were already in the performers’ repertoire; others were suggested by Kennedy — the music by Britten in particular, since this year is the 100th anniversary of the composer’s birth.
“It’s been a really good experience playing here,” said Goodman, a member of the orchestra for the second year. “We get to play a lot of repertoire I’ve never played before. That way it’s really exciting as a performer.”
Christina Riley is a Goldring Arts Journalist from Syracuse University.