This January, the New Jersey Symphony Orchestra (NJSO) presents its 2012 Winter Festival: FIRE-the second season of a multi-year odyssey spotlighting the symbolic power of natural elements that have inspired composers for centuries. The festival, which runs from January 6–22, encompasses three concert programs celebrating fire in music. From multiple orchestral reflections on the legend of Prometheus to Kaija Saariaho's scintillating cello concerto Notes on Light, the NJSO explores the powerful musical creations fire has inspired. Performances will take place at six of the Orchestra's venues throughout the state of New Jersey.
Music Director Jacques Lacombe leads each festival program. The first performance, The Hero's Fire, features pianist Yevgeny Sudbin performing Scriabin's Prometheus: The Poem of Fire (Symphony No. 5). Scriabin envisioned elaborate projections of color accompanying the music; Arc3design collaborates with the NJSO to create a special lighting environment for these performances. Stravinsky's complete Firebird and music from Wagner's Die Walküre round out the program.
The second program, Best of Playing with Fire, looks at musical stories of characters that have made a deal with the devil. From Offenbach's Orpheus in the Underworld Overture to Gounod and Berlioz's depictions of the story of Faust, the NJSO examines a host of diabolical scores.
Fire: Light & Legend-the Winter Festival's closing program-touches on the earliest days of the symphony with Haydn's "Fire" Symphony, and it reaches forward into contemporary life with Saariaho's cello concerto Notes on Light. In between is a new vision for a Beethoven classic. Lacombe synthesizes music, dance, speech and light into a gripping new take on the mythical moment when fire transformed human life. Dancers from The Francesca Harper Project, lyricist and playwright Murray Horwitz and lighting designer Albert Crawford collaborate to bring Beethoven's Creatures of Prometheus to life.
Pre-concert Winter Festival events, presented in collaboration with several partnering organizations, explore fire-related topics. Special events include conversations about fire's restorative role in nature, alternative energy sources and the myth of Prometheus; a Classical Conversation with composer Saariaho and Information Fairs & Artisan Marketplaces that will showcase displays from environmental organizations and artisans who work with fire.
Winter Festival partnering organizations include The Geraldine R. Dodge Foundation, Friends of Great Swamp National Wildlife Refuge, GlassRoots, The Nature Conservancy, New Jersey Highlands Coalition, New Jersey Sierra Club, Newark Arts Council, Pinelands Preservation Alliance, Potters' Guild of New Jersey and Raritan Headwaters Association.
For more information on the Winter Festival and related events, visit www.njsymphony.org/fire.
Tickets start at $20 and are available for purchase online at www.njsymphony.org or by phone at 1.800.ALLEGRO (255.3476). Pre-concert events are free to ticketholders.