Symphony, Chorale bring Venice to Fox

The Spokane Symphony and Symphony Chorale set off for Venice on Friday.

Actually, the two ensembles will stay right at home at the Martin Woldson Theater at The Fox. But the music of this season-opening Casual Classics program will visit the opera houses, churches and palaces of Venice, with a short stopover in Rome.

Music Director Eckart Preu will conduct instrumental and choral works by composers associated with Venice, from Gabrieli and Monteverdi in the 17th century through Vivaldi in the 18th and Stravinsky in the 20th.

Venice was the place where music moved from the cool elegance of the renaissance style to the lavish ardor of the baroque. It was the city where the first public opera houses were built and where music publishing started to become an industry.

Monteverdi and Vivaldi worked in Venice, Wagner died there and Stravinsky is buried there.

Though Preu will conduct both the orchestral and chorale works on the program, the Symphony Chorale has prepared the choral pieces with its new director, Júlian Gómez-Giraldo.

He assumed the job this season, succeeding Lori Wiest, who had directed the chorale for 11 years.

After his conservatory education in his native Columbia, Gómez-Giraldo was awarded a scholarship in conducting at Texas Christian University, where he earned master’s degrees in both conducting and in composition.

He later earned a doctorate in conducting from the University of Northern Colorado. Gómez-Giraldo is in his second year leading the orchestra program at Eastern Washington University.

The chorale will sing two settings of the Crucifixus by Antonio Lotti – written for the Basilica of San Marco in Venice – along with the Miserere by the Roman composer Gregorio Allegri, composed in 1638 for the papal chapel using the multichorus style which originated in Venice early in the 17th century.

“What amazes me about Lotti’s music is the revolutionary harmony and dissonance in his capability of making you feel the sorrow, crying and suffering in every word of this dramatic text,” Gómez-Giraldo says.

“And Allegri’s Miserere strikes me in the wonder of the stereo effect of using three choirs responding and complementing each other.”

The chorale will also sing Pater Noster and Ave Maria, two short, infrequently performed pieces by Stravinsky.

“The spareness and limited range of vocal parts puts them closer to the spoken voice in private prayer rather than something to impress everybody, but at the same time rich in spiritual emotion,” says Gómez-Giraldo.

Friday’s program opens with Giovanni Gabrieli’s Canzon Primi Toni À 8. Gabrieli, master of music at Venice’s Basilica of San Marco, wrote it as part of a series of pieces intended to exploit the stereo effects made possible by the multiple choir lofts and galleries in the cathedral.

Preu also has scheduled the Sinfonia and Ritornettos from Monteverdi’s “Orfeo,” generally considered the first modern opera when it was performed in 1607.

Stravinsky’s chamber orchestra music will be heard as well, with a performance of the “Dumbarton Oaks” Concerto, inspired by the 18th-century concertos of Bach and Vivaldi.

Preu concludes Friday’s concert with one of Vivaldi’s best known concertos (except for “The Four Seasons”), the Concerto in B minor for Four Violins.

Soloists include concertmaster Mateusz Wolski and associate concertmaster Jason Bell, principal second violinist Amanda Howard- Phillips and associate principal David Armstrong.

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