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LISTEN: Pensacola Symphony Orchestra Opening Night


 The Pensacola Symphony will open its 92nd season this Saturday in the Saenger Theatre in downtown Pensacola.  The concert, which starts at 7:30, will feature Cuban pianist Santiago Rodriguez in a program of works by Strauss, Ravel, Saint-Saens, and Berlioz.  Music Director Peter Rubardt and UWF Distinguished Professor Dr. Hedi Salanki stopped by the WUWF studios to share some thoughts on the upcoming performance.

Hedi Salanki: If anyone ever wonders how a conducter starts the twenty first season, I have a hint: with horn calls!

Peter Rubardt: Horn calls are a great way to start anything, aren't they? That, of course, is from Richard Strauss, his opera Der Rosenkavalier, the famous opening and Strauss could write for horns like no one else and what a great way to start a concert. Der Rosenkavalier is such a joyful, funny, laugh-out-loud opera with so much depth in it as well.

HS: I am always wondering how do you put together a program and what connects the composers together so well?

PR: Well there's an interesting connection between the Strauss piece we just listened to and the piece by Maurice Ravel that we'll be closing the concert with, La Valse. They both draw on the waltz form, that simple oom-cha-cha, oom-cha-cha, oom-cha-cha, that seems so natural and yet those composers find ways to get the nooks and crannies of the waltz like you've never heard before.In La Valse some of the orchestration tricks that Ravel pulls off are just out of this world.

HS: Ravel lived in Vienna at the time he composed La Valse. Saint-Saens lived in Egypt when he composed the fifth concerto. I must admit I did not know this piece until you put it on the program because it's a phenomenally good piece.
PR: It's incredible, isn't it just incredible? So Camille Sain-Saens was a virtuoso piano in his own right, he wrote five concertos and I had never done the piece before either but I'm so excited. It's an unbelievable showcase for the pianist and boy do we ever have a pianist. Someone you introduced me to, the Cuban pianist, Santiago Rodriguez.

HS: Yes, I heard him a couple of years ago, I was blown away not only by the amazing technicality but the musicality also and his whole human soul comes through his playing and I'm so excited to have him not only at the symphony but also at the university on the following Monday at the Music Hall Artist's series.

PR: That's right, in the Music Hall on October 9. We're very excited to have him here.

HS: I'm sure the musicians are happy to be back and play again and I'm also sure they look at the scores and say, 'okay- who gets the biggest role on the opening night?'

PR: Well they all get a big role on this opening night! And it is so much fun to get together again for the first time, there's something special about Pensacola, they love to come back. We're excited for opening night.

That was Pensacola Symphony Music Director Peter Rubardt and Professor Hedi Salanki  talking about the concert  this Saturday at the Saenger Theatre.  More information is available at the symphony,  435-2533, or  online at pensacolasymphony.com.