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Gerald Carpenter: Chamber Orchestra to Celebrate 200 Years of Schumann

The Santa Barbara ensemble will close its season with Tuesday's concert

June 8 will mark the 200th anniversary of the birth of Robert Schumann, and the Santa Barbara Chamber Orchestra will close its 2009-10 season with an all-Schumann concert at 7:30 p.m. Tuesday, May 18, in the Lobero Theatre.

Maestro Heiichiro Ohyama will conduct, with up-and-coming pianist Wonny Song as the soloist.

The program will consist of two works: Schumann’s Concerto in A-Minor for Piano and Orchestra, Opus 54 and his Symphony No. 3 in Eb-Major, Opus 97, known as the “Rhenish.” (His Overture to Lord Byron’s influential poetic drama Manfred would have made a splendid curtain-raiser, but let that go.)

Schumann was a bundle of contradictions. On the one hand, he represents the extreme Byronic wing of the Romantic movement, in that he worshipped Byron’s poetry and celebrated the new social and artistic paradigms that Byron represented. On the other hand, there are few if any Romantic artists who were less egoistical, more sympathetic and generously supportive of all their contemporaries.

Far from emulating Byron’s sexual adventurism, Schumann, once he had won the hand of brilliant pianist Clara Wieck — over her father’s stubborn resistance — he was as loving a father and devoted a husband as the bourgeois 19th century produced. He wholeheartedly embraced the revolutionary expansion of means of Ludwig van Beethoven, Franz Schubert and Carl Maria von Weber, yet his truest disciple and heir was the arch-conservative Brahms.

His music, too, often betrays his divided spirit, but not the two works on this program. The Concerto, written for his wife, of course, is a joyful, headlong virtuoso showcase, while the Rhenish Symphony is a worthy successor to the Beethoven’s Pastorale Symphony and the equal of Felix Mendelssohn’s Italian Symphony and Hector Berlioz’s Harold in Italy — all symphonic works that put you in the picture of some special place.

Tickets to Tuesday’s concert are available through the Lobero box office at 33 E. Canon Perdido St. or 805.963.0761, or click here to purchase tickets online.

— Gerald Carpenter covers the arts as a Noozhawk contributor. He can be reached at .(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address).

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