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Spokane, Washington  Est. May 19, 1883
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Symphony’s next stop: Prague

Travis Rivers Correspondent

Traveling by music holds few of the drawbacks of, say, air travel. There’s no luggage, no lines, no pat-downs or full body scans, no delays.

And there are special bargains for those who want to take their musical journeys at the Spokane Symphony’s concerts this month.

The symphony offers reduced fares to the music of Prague for its Casual Classics audience Friday.

The program at the Martin Woldson Theater at The Fox, led by Resident Conductor Morihiko Nakahara, features works by Mozart, Dvorák and Suk.

Cello soloists John Marshall and Helen Byrne will perform seldom-heard solo works by Dvorák.

Tickets for Friday’s concert (and for the upcoming classics concerts Jan. 23 and 24) are half-price through the symphony ticket office.

“We have the U.S. Figure Skating Competition in town,” says Annie Matlow, the symphony’s marketing director. “That’s stiff competition for our concerts.

“But there are people who might like to watch something else than skating or who are just undecided what they might like to do. So we’d like to get their seats in our seats, and Prague is a good place to go.”

Prague is not only the present-day capital of Czechoslovakia, it was once the capital of the Kingdom of Bohemia, a large kingdom in the eastern edge of the Holy Roman Empire. In the 18th century it became a center for opera that rivaled Vienna.

Four of Mozart’s operas were performed there. “The Abduction from the Seraglio” and “The Marriage of Figaro” were such successes that Mozart was commissioned to write “Don Giovanni” especially for Prague.

“My Praguers love my music,” the composer wrote to his father.

Nakahara opens Friday’s concert with the overture to “The Marriage of Figaro.”

In the 19th century, Prague was home to the founders of Czech music including Antonin Dvorák and his favorite composition pupil and later son-in-law, Josef Suk.

Nakahara has selected two serenades by Dvorak and Suk: Dvorák’s Serenade for Winds, Op. 44, and Suk’s Serenade for Strings, Op. 6.

Marshall, the symphony’s principal cellist, will play Dvorák’s “Silent Woods,” the composer’s arrangement of a work he originally wrote for piano duet.

Byrne, the orchestra’s assistant principal cellist, will play Dvorák’s Rondo in G minor, written as a farewell gift to his friend and trio partner Hanus Wilhan as the composer was about to depart for America.

Dvorák’s Cello Concerto, a work dedicated to Wilhan, was completed during his stay in the U.S.

Nakahara will give spoken program notes for Friday’s program, illustrated by musical examples played by orchestra members.

The symphony’s First Avenue Art Deco Bistro will serve a selection of happy hour appetizers and beverages, prepared by Glover Mansion chefs, from 6:30 p.m. to concert time. Selected items can be pre-ordered before the concert to be available at intermission.

In addition, prepaid parking may be purchased through the symphony ticket office.

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