McAninch hosts New Philharmonic’s Beethoven tribute

The Courier News, April 8, 2014

by Annie Alleman

The New Philharmonic returns to its home at The Mac with a tribute to the bad boy of baroque: Ludwig Van Beethoven.

“The Ultimate Rebel – Ludwig Van!” will be at 8 p.m. April 12 and 3 p.m. April 13 at the McAninch Arts Center at the College of DuPage in Glen Ellyn. The New Philharmonic will present Beethoven’s Symphony No. 5, op. 67, C minor; and Beethoven’s Symphony No. 7, op. 92, A major, directed by Kirk Muspratt.

“They say that Beethoven’s 5 is the most famous piece of music in the world,” he said. “You could play it in the middle of Nepal and people would know those four notes. We haven’t played it in many years — I think about 10 years, believe it or not. It’s a monumental piece of music. It changed music history forever — the drama of it, the expression of it, the power of it, the use of instruments in it.”

Before the Philharmonic begins the show, Muspratt stages “Kirk’s Klassical Bootcamp” for the audience, where he will discuss the inspirations and influences behind two of Beethoven’s greatest achievements.

“We’ll take the piece apart before we play it. The reaction of our audience and what they write to me is, they like that very much,” he said. “Having some contact with us before we play it and having some information about the piece, some historical context and understanding of where it fits in our human history.”

He also does Cookies with Kirk afterwards, another way to discuss the program.

“The lobby is beautiful and there’s much more room. There’s actually a bar there now, so people can get refreshments at intermission or afterwards, so it makes it more social, too,” he said.

He’s bringing about 60 musicians with him. It’s a good instrumentation, especially for the 7th Symphony, he said.

“Many people like Beethoven 7 the very best. It’s probably the most easily listenable. It’s very light and joyous and bubbly. The A major Symphony Number 7 is very different in character than the 5. (Beethoven’s) 5 is very dark and very questioning and very probing, and 7 is ‘Hey, let’s go have a beer.’ It’s beautiful and very romantic, too. A completely different side of Beethoven.

“Up until then, you don’t have such an enormously wide range of expression in classical music. Once you get to Beethoven, he can be silly, but he can be way dark. Like, ‘What is life all about?’ You’ve seen pictures of Beethoven. Does he look like a guy you’d want to date? No. Would you want to go bowling with him? Or go on a cruise to Tahiti with him? I don’t think so.”

People will hear a first-class orchestra play with a lot of conviction and energy and integrity, he said.

“They will have a very human experience, so that it’s not necessarily only music, they will they learn about the pieces.”

Before Beethoven 7 he will talk about conductors and how each interprets the piece differently.

“I hope people are intrigued and enjoy themselves intellectually,” he said. “I don’t want people just to come and have a concert. I want them to come and really have a tremendous experience.”

People should come to the concert if only to see the newly renovated concert hall, he said.

“It is really a concert destination in the western suburbs. It is absolutely gorgeous. It’s intimate and the tickets (prices) are very reasonable. I think we’re very lucky to have such a beautiful performing space.”

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