“Senza Zefiri,” Juno Strings, debut concert at Latchis Theatre

BRATTLEBORO, Vt. – Juno Orchestra, Vermont’s newest professional chamber orchestra, announces its debut performance at the Latchis Theatre in downtown Brattleboro. Engaging musicians from the tri-state area surrounding Brattleboro, the orchestra is in residence at the Brattleboro Music Center.

“The title, ‘Senza Zefiri,’ literally means ‘without winds or breezes,’ and refers to this concert’s focus on the Juno string section. We have expanded the string sections to present some powerfully evocative pieces for string orchestra,” music director Zon Eastes commented.

The concert features three colorful pieces from three centuries. “Battalia” by Heinrich Ignaz Franz von Biber, composed in the 17th century, is scored for ten players. Most of us likely have little stomach for the pains and grief of war. But, perhaps like journalists, composers reflect upon all manner of human propensities as they “report” upon the world and our human condition. Composers from Jannequin to Tchaikovsky, from Beethoven to Britten have explored the implications of battle, in victory and defeat. Biber’s “Battalia,” surely one of the most ingenious compositions of its time, is a spirited reflection on the deeply devastating Thirty Years War that ravaged Europe in the early- to mid-17th century. Brief, pointed movements create contemporary reactions to a number of elements associated with war: calls to battle, battle itself, meetings among divergent cultures, and finally lament.

New York composer Philip Glass has to date written six string quartets. About his “String Quartet 5,” commissioned for the Kronos Quartet in the early 1990s, Glass said, “I was thinking that I had really gone beyond the need to write a serious string quartet and that I could write a quartet that is about musicality, which in a certain way is the most serious subject.”

The five continuously played movements work are rich and compelling, churning in a full-throated circular and minimalist style. Zon Eastes commented about the piece, “This quartet offers a particularly grand scope. I performed the quartet many years ago, and even then, recognized its potential for string orchestra.” A string bass part has been added to Glass’ score, and appropriate permissions have been earned from Glass himself.

In 1875, Antonin Dvořák was a new father as he wrote the “Serenade for Strings,” certainly one of his most beautiful and inviting compositions. Married two years earlier, he was also on the verge of international success, having won the lucrative Austrian State Prize thanks to the influence of Johannes Brahms, an ardent fan. The prize provided a significant stipend that allowed Dvořák a focus resulting in a burst of high-quality compositions that solidified his reputation as a top-flight composer. Composed in just two weeks, the Serenade lifts and lilts through five stunning movements, finally circling back to the calm and repose of the Serenade’s opening bars.

The concert takes place Sunday, Feb. 10, 3 p.m. at the Latchis Theatre, Brattleboro, Vt. Tickets range in price and can be purchased by calling 802-257-4523. For more information, visit www.junoorchestra.org or call 802-380-9550.

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