Wine and music – what could possibly go wrong?
Not much, according to conductor Morihiko Nakahara.
Soiree on the Edge No. 1, which was held Aug. 9, was Nakahara’s first time conducting at Arbor Crest Wine Cellars in several years, and he was in awe of the venue.
“What a beautiful setting for music making and listening,” he said in an email. “I love how listeners are spread out everywhere throughout the winery, including some who are under the tent and very close to the orchestra.”
Though not much can stop the symphony or the audience from enjoying the evening, the smoke that’s hung around the area all summer presented the symphony with a challenge during Soiree on the Edge No. 1.
“We all take it in stride, though, and do our best whatever natural elements we might encounter,” Nakahara said.
Performing outdoors can also be disorienting at times because the acoustical environment and how Nakahara and the musicians listen to each other on stage can be far different than what they’re used to.
But, as true professionals, Nakahara and the symphony are ready and able to adapt.
“There might be some adjusting in how we listen to each other and react to each other during the first few minutes of the concert, but again, that’s what we are supposed to do – constant listening and adjusting every time we play, no matter where we play,” he said.
Like he did for the first concert in the series, Nakahara will bring a mix of traditional and contemporary pieces to Soiree on the Edge No. 2, Wednesday at Arbor Crest Wine Cellars.
The summertime staple kicks off with Igor Stravinsky’s Suite No. 2 for Small Orchestra and closes with Antonin Dvorak’s Czech Suite.
“Both of them heavily influenced by folk dances and are loads of fun to play and listen to,” Nakahara said.
Sandwiched between the two classics are Christopher Theofanidis’ “A Thousand Cranes” and Andy Ahiko’s “Speaking Tree.”
Theofanidis’ piece pays tribute to Sadako Sasaki, known around the world for having folded 1,000 origami cranes before her death at age 12 from leukemia, which developed years after the atomic bomb was dropped on Hiroshima when she was 2 years old.
“Christopher Theofanidis’ ‘A Thousand Cranes’ is a stunningly beautiful homage … and serves as a moving meditation on world peace, destruction of war, innocence of childhood,” Nakahara said.
Nakahara has worked with Ahiko, whom he calls a brilliant composer and percussionist, multiple times in South Carolina, where Ahiko grew up and Nakahara works as the music director of the South Carolina Philharmonic.
“How he requires individual musicians to play their instruments in unorthodox ways to create interesting sound effects seems perfectly suited for this concert,” Nakahara said of Ahiko’s “hyper-rhythmical and groovy” piece. “In a way, all of the ambient sounds and noises from surrounding nature and your neighbor’s wine glasses will all seamlessly morph into Andy’s sound world.”
With an awe-inspiring venue and an always varied program, Soiree on the Edge concerts are a chance for both those on and off stage to loosen up and enjoy the end of summer.
“We can leave stuffiness and formality in the parking lot and enjoy the gorgeous setting of Arbor Crest and the fellowship of your company while listening to a mixture of familiar and intriguingly unfamiliar music,” Nakahara said.
He credits Music Director Eckart Preu for creating the series and said he is thrilled to conduct Soiree on the Edge this year.
He does have one request, though.
“I’m just wishing for less smoke in the air this time,” he said.
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