Join a World Celebration with the Philharmonic

Sang-Eng Lee

Two artists praised for their emotional connections with an audience take the Porter Center stage at Brevard College Sunday, Nov. 12 at 3 p.m. with a dynamic and internationally varied program featuring works by John Williams, Shostakovich, Rossini and Schumann.

This second concert of the Brevard Philharmonic’s Artistic Director Search Season, World Celebration, will showcase candidate and guest conductor, Nick Palmer, currently Music Director/Conductor of the North Charleston POPS! and Music Director/Conductor of the Lafayette (Indiana) Symphony. Palmer will direct the Philharmonic and guest soloist, Sang-Eng Lee, the 22-year-old cellist and 2014 winner of the Young Concert Artists International Auditions, playing Tchaikovsky’s Variation of a Rococo Theme, op. 33.

The concert will open with Maestro Palmer conducting the Philharmonic in John Williams’ especially colorful arrangement of the Star Spangled Banner, performed in honor of Veteran’s Day. This version had its debut in 2014 to coincide with the 200th anniversary of the writing of the piece. The LA Times called the new arrangement, “Big, bold and yes…cinematic.”

Moving from America to Russia, the next offering, Dmitri Shostakovich’s Festive Overture, op. 96, is equally rousing. The composer was tapped to write a piece for purely propaganda purposes for the Bolshoi Theatre Orchestra on the 37th anniversary of the October Revolution. And it was needed in a hurry. It is said he finished the work in a matter of hours. It is such a vivacious and brilliant display of orchestral fireworks that it has a secure place in the international repertoire.

Next, another Russian, gets star treatment as the celebrated cellist, Sang-Eun Lee joins the Philharmonic performing Tchaikovsky’s Variations on a Rococo Theme, op. 33.

Always melodic and passionate, Tchaikovsky was inspired in Variations by his role model, Mozart and the classical style. It is the closest he ever came to writing a full concerto for cello and orchestra. The piece builds and finally sets a swift tempo for some brilliant exchanges between the soloist and the orchestra, particularly the winds.

After intermission the Philharmonic takes the stage with Maestro Palmer at the podium, whisking us off to Italy and Gioachino Rossini’s Overture to L’italiana in Algeri. (The Italian Girl in Algiers). Rossini wrote the opera at the age of 21, completing it in under a month. The work appropriately made its debut in Venice in 1813 and was considered to be his first real smash, setting the pattern for all the fun, high energy Rossini overtures that followed.

The afternoon of World Celebration wraps up with German composer and music critic Robert Schumann’s Symphony No. 4 in D minor, op.120. The piece was first performed in 1841 and given to his wife for her birthday. Then called the Clara Symphony, a name that has gone by the wayside in more modern times. Now widely regarded as one of his most original and inventive works, he departs radically from the classical forms of Mozart, Haydn and Beethoven. The work is high in energy, melody and emotion. It has been said that Schumann considered calling the piece “Symphonic Fantasia,” no doubt wondering if such a creation were still a genuine symphony.

Maestro Palmer is a recipient of the Helen M. Thompson Award from the League of American Orchestras as the nation’s most outstanding young music director. He has received rave reviews from orchestras all over the country, and is always noted for his ability to connect with his audience. A few weeks ago, Nick made his recording debut with the London Philharmonic Orchestra at the famed Abbey Road Studios.

After each performance this season there will be a ticketed, post concert gala reception. This occasion is designed as an opportunity for concert goers to meet the conductor candidates in an up close and personal setting in the Porter Center’s Scott Commons. Entrance to these receptions requires a $20 donation, limited to 100 music lovers.

Tickets are on sale now and will be available at $25 to $35 per concert. Season ticket packages are on sale now for 3 and 4 concerts. Call 828-884-4221 for details, stop in at our brand new office across from Brevard College at 521 North Broad Street, or use our Pick Your Seat option at

About Shelby Harrell
Shelby Harrell is the editor of the Biltmore Beacon, editor of The Guide arts and entertainment publication and is a staff writer for Mountaineer Publishing. Originally from Asheville, she has worked in journalism for seven years and currently lives in Clyde, NC.