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In the first 10 days of June, the Alabama Symphony Orchestra is wrapping up an unforgettable 2017-2018 Season with The Firebird and Tchaikovsky’s Sixth: Russian Masterpieces and Symphony in the Summer at Railroad Park.
On June 1 & 2 (tickets can be purchased online or box office), the ASO will be playing its last Masterworks concert of the season at the Alys Stephens Center’s Jemison Concert Hall featuring dazzling Russian favorites, The Firebird and Tchaikovsky’s Sixth.
A Sergei Diaghilev ballet based on a Russian fairy tale, the story is about an exotic bird luring a handsome prince into an enchanted garden and palace in which a princess is held captive. The prince falls in love, but can only free the princess by breaking an evil ogre’s spell.
Diaghilev was unsuccessful at recruiting the most successful Russian composers of the day for the ballet, so he settled on Igor Stravinsky, who was known in Russia as one of Rimsky-Korsakov’s more gifted students. The work was an instant success. Less than a year later, Stravinsky’s Petrushka opened. By 1913, Stravinsky premiered The Rite of Spring, cementing him as one of the most important composers of his generation.
Tchaikovsky: Symphony No. 6
Tchaikovsky’s Symphony No. 6—his last and possibly greatest work —came into being as the result of writer’s block. After struggling for some time with a programmatic symphony, Tchaikovsky worried that perhaps he had lost his inspiration to compose.
As he confessed to his nephew, “I think and I think, and I know not what to do.”
To his delight, however, he was at work on the “Pathetique” Symphony (the title for Symphony No. 6) within two months, writing in February 1893, “You cannot imagine what bliss I feel, assured that my time has not yet passed and that I can still work.”
He was more than pleased with the results, proclaiming in a letter for a friend that “I myself consider it the best and especially the most open-hearted of my works. I love it as I have never loved any of my musical creations.”
One of his most popular works, Tchaikovsky died shortly after its premiere after he drank a glass of unboiled water—a dangerous proposition in St. Petersburg during a cholera outbreak—and died of the disease in less than a week. His death, even today, remains a mystery.
Carlos Izcaray, Music Director of the ASO, says “Though there’s an obvious bittersweet side to wrapping up a year’s run of amazing music making, I’m very much looking forward to our last Masterworks program of the season. The concert takes the listeners and musicians on a magical journey of sorts. Stravinsky, Rimsky-Korsakov, and Tchaikovsky, are three of the greatest and most exciting composers of all time, architects of deeply emotional musical masterpieces that convey the entirety of the human experience.”
Symphony in the Summer at Railroad Park
The ASO’s 2017-2018 Season officially ends with a series of free concerts from June 8-10 at Birmingham’s “backyard” Railroad Park . An annual tradition, concertgoers of all ages will be treated to music ranging from Beethoven to Disney.
Izcaray says, “We can all celebrate the beauty of our city when the Symphony goes outdoors to Railroad Park. It is the best way for the ASO to express our gratitude to our community, who provide us with the opportunity to share this great art form in a relaxed, family-friendly atmosphere.”
Here is the line-up.
June 8: Join the ASO for an evening of Beethoven Under the Stars at Railroad Park! The evening begins with a trio of delightful Overtures from Rossini, Beethoven, and Humperdink and concludes with Beethoven’s First Symphony!
June 9: Hear the ASO perform a pair of dynamic overtures: Rossini’s William Tell and Tchaikovsky’s 1812. The evening also includes Strauss’ romantic and triumphant Emperor Waltz.
June 10: Enjoy this family friendly night with everything from Jurassic Park, to Super Mario Bros., to West Side Story. The evening is full of energetic music and has something for everyone!
“We always look forward to having the Alabama Symphony Orchestra perform at Railroad Park each year,” said Camille Spratling, Executive Director, Railroad Park Foundation. “When you think about the experience, it’s what the founders of the park had in mind when they designed this space. It’s a vision of everyone coming together for an inclusive cultural experience. We have one of the most talented symphonies in the world performing for free for the citizens of Birmingham, next to the city skyline while the sun sets over Railroad Park’s lake. It brings us together. It’s an idyllic evening in the city, and we’re proud to be a part of it.”
2018-2019 Season Subscriptions are available now
Celebrate the end of the 2017-2018 Season by purchasing a new season subscription for the ASO’s 2018-2019 Season. The upcoming year features all 9 Beethoven Symphonies, Disney In Concert, Harry Potter and the Chamber of Secrets™ in Concert, and more! Packages start at just $88.