If he were back in his native Czech Republic, Coeur d’Alene Symphony conductor Jan Pellant would spend his holidays performing chamber music and folk tunes with his musician friends.
He might also spend some time proposing concert projects for the coming season.
“I’m basically doing all the time music,” he said. “It doesn’t matter if it’s for the stage or offstage. It doesn’t matter if it’s professional engagement or just for fun.”
Although Pellant will spend the holidays here in the U.S., the season still will be filled with music thanks to the symphony’s “Holiday Joy from Scandinavia” concerts, Friday and Saturday at the Salvation Army Kroc Center.
Pellant decided to bring a Scandinavian theme to the symphony’s holiday concerts because he sees a lot of similarities between the city and the region.
“A lot of beautiful landscapes, forests, mountains,” he said. “I wanted to see if Coeur d’Alene can be in Finland for awhile.”
The first half of the program is anchored by Finnish composer Jean Sibelius’s Symphony No. 5, which Pellant said was one of the most challenging pieces written for orchestras.
“It’s very tricky, very technically challenging, but at the same time very beautiful and so well written,” he said. “The reason why we scheduled this challenging music by Sibelius is to make sure the orchestra is constantly developing the artistic levels by playing pretty un-easy music.”
The concert will also feature selections from Norwegian composer Edvard Grieg’s “Holberg Suite.”
Chorale Coeur d’Alene will join the symphony for a number of pieces, including Joseph M. Martin’s “Dance Into the Light” and a variety of holiday songs including Leroy Anderson’s “Song of the Bells” and “Sleigh Ride,” John Rutter’s “We Wish You A Merry Christmas” and selections from George Frideric Handel’s Messiah, which features soloists Rachel Jordan and Charles Sorensson.
Chorale Coeur d’Alene is under the direction of Stan McDaniel, who will conduct Mykola Leontovych’s “Carol of the Bells.”
When planning the “Holiday Joy from Scandinavia” concerts, Pellant was looking to create a diverse program, one that included classics to get audiences into the holiday mood and more standard pieces from the symphonic repertoire.
“I like to start from even, let’s say, 17th century and get to the 21st century to make sure there are five or six pieces that are from each (century),” he said. “Because you never know who is sitting in the audience and who would enjoy what. Someone would enjoy Bach, someone would enjoy Mozart, someone would enjoy a little more jazz music or folk tunes. I’m a type of musician who likes to have a diverse program.”
“Holiday Joy from Scandinavia” marks the first time Pellant will work with Chorale Coeur d’Alene onstage.
He’s excited for the chance to work with the choir, which he said has great enthusiasm, just like the Coeur d’Alene Symphony.
With nearly 100 performers onstage between the two groups, Pellant advises audience members that so much enthusiasm could lead to some incredible moments.
“Being willing to do great music, great art as if all the concerts are the last one in the life, there’s a big chance that we can experience some, I call, transcendental moments with all these two fantastic groups,” he said.
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