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Monday, September 23, 2019  Spokane, Washington  Est. May 19, 1883
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A&E >  Music

Symphony mixes No-Li brews and Beethoven

UPDATED: Wed., March 8, 2017, 5:40 p.m.

Spokane Symphony trombonists, from left, Ross Holcombe, Richard Strauch and Skyler Johnson perform at No-Li Brewhouse as part of "Beethoven and Brews" in Spokane on Wednesday, Feb. 22, 2017. (Kathy Plonka / The Spokesman-Review)
Spokane Symphony trombonists, from left, Ross Holcombe, Richard Strauch and Skyler Johnson perform at No-Li Brewhouse as part of "Beethoven and Brews" in Spokane on Wednesday, Feb. 22, 2017. (Kathy Plonka / The Spokesman-Review)

As history tells it, Ludwig van Beethoven wasn’t shy when it came to drinking, so much so that it’s noted in “The Life of Ludwig van Beethoven: Volume 3” by Alexander Wheelock Thayer that his final words were “Pity, pity, too late,” upon hearing of a gift of 12 bottles of wine from his publisher.

Although Assistant Conductor Jorge Luis Uzcátegui and the Spokane Symphony won’t be nursing any drinks while performing, they are, in a way, paying homage to the composer’s drinking habits with Beethoven and Brews, which comes to the Fox Theater on Friday.

The evening begins at 6 p.m. with a beer garden featuring drinks from No-Li Brewhouse, including its new Beethoven Golden Ale, and food from Shameless Sausages.

The concert begins at 7:30 p.m. and will feature members of the Blue Door Theater performing improv between songs, taking inspiration from what was happening in Beethoven’s life at the time the pieces in the program were written.

Uzcátegui, in his second season with the Spokane Symphony, credits this atypical event to Dan Cotter, the orchestra’s general manager.

“He figured ‘Let’s do something a little bit outside of the box and something that is fun for obviously fans of classical music, but also for fans of beer and to include more different types of audiences,’ ” he said.

Classical music aficionados and non-experts alike should be pleased with the setlist, as Uzcátegui, Cotter and Music Director Eckart Preu selected many of what are considered to be Beethoven’s greatest hits.

“You cannot go wrong with this program,” Uzcátegui said.

Beethoven and Brews opens with Overture to Coriolan, Op. 62, followed by Symphony No. 5 in C minor, Op. 67, which Uzcátegui said could be the most famous piece written for classical music.

Spokane Symphony Concertmaster Mateusz Wolski, the first of two soloists, will close the first half with Beethoven’s Concerto in D major for Violin, Opus 61.

After intermission, pianist Qishan Shi, a 17-year-old from China, will perform “Moonlight Sonata” before performing Concerto No. 1 in C major for Piano, Op. 1 with the symphony.

“(The piano concerto) has this celebratory type of sound in which you almost feel they are cheering with beers in their hands,” Uzcátegui said.

The program closes with Symphony No. 7 in A Major, Op. 92.

Uzcátegui got firsthand knowledge into how German musicians approach Beethoven’s work, the program finale in particular, as the result of a recent first place win in the conducting category of the international concerto competition Debut Hamburg.

He conducted Mozart’s Violin Concerto No. 5 and Beethoven’s Symphony No. 7 with the KlassikPhilharmonie Hamburg Orchestra.

“Now knowing how Germans play it and how they shape it gives me a bigger insight and ideas of what we should do,” Uzcátegui said. “One of the things that was obvious is they really do have a lot of fun playing this music. A lot of people think of classical music as something very serious, but the way they approach it, it’s really like their popular music, like they were dancing in a disco and that’s how they play, too. That was really great to experience.”

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