Boston Phil and LCO: Orchestrating Sanders Theatre

by Andrew Chow '14

Sanders Theatre has played host to several great classical performances this semester, including HRO’s riotous rendition of Stravinsky’s Rite of Spring. This weekend, the Boston Philharmonic and the Longy Conservatory Orchestra will each take the stage to fill the storied concert hall with orchestral music once again.

Since its inception in 1979, the Boston Phil, under the baton of Benjamin Zander, has played in Sanders regularly and will perform Bartok’s Violin Concerto No. 2 and Brahms’ Symphony 2, 7:30 Thursday, November 21 and 3 p.m. Sunday, November 24 (a pre-concert talk begins at 1:45 p.m. on Sunday). The Bartok will feature the Boston debut of Moldavian phenom Patricia Kopatchinskaja, who combines a rigorous technical background with a deep interest in European folk music.

Susie Ikeda '12 HGSE has been performing in Sanders with the Phil for 17 years. The frequency does not diminish the musicians’ enthusiasm for the space. "Brahms’ second symphony is such an important piece, a beautiful landmark piece. To be able to play it in a landmark hall like Sanders is a really wonderful combination," Ikeda says.

Between the Phil's two concerts, the LCO will take the stage with Dance and Dialects: Music From Norway and Bohemia, 7 p.m. Friday, November 22. The program was created around an original symphonic piece by Melika M. Fitzhugh ‘95, who won the Longy Composition Competition earlier this year. The piece incorporates elements of traditional dance music from many countries including Bulgaria, Macedonia and Norway. Fitzhugh started writing it while playing electric bass with a modern dance company in India.

The performance on Friday will represent a couple of firsts: the first time that Fitzhugh hears her piece in performance and the first time that LCO conductor Geoffrey McDonald will perform in Sanders. However, neither is fazed. Fitzhugh has played in Sanders many times, with the Harvard Wind Ensemble and Radcliffe Choral Society as an undergrad. "I thought it was glorious playing in there," Fitzhugh says. "Everything was so alive, so wonderful, but not so huge that things would get lost."

McDonald, the Sanders newcomer, takes the long view of the venue's history. "As far as playing in a place that’s got a lot intimidating ghosts, that’s never particularly bothered me," he says. "There’s something comforting in a way, that so many people have succeeded performing in the room."

The two orchestras performing over the weekend join that historic Sanders canon.

[Caption: Benjamin Zander]