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Paducah Symphony Captures the 'Inextinguishable Spirit of Life' in Nielsen's 4th Symphony


"Music is life. And like life, it is inextinguishable." - Carl Nielsen. This sentiment is evoked in the Paducah Symphony Orchestra's presentation of Nielsen's 4th Symphony, featuring side-by-side performance by the Paducah Symphony Youth Orchestra in Rachmaninoff's Symphony in D minor "Youth." Also, Respighi's tour through Rome in Fontane di Roma and Verdi's Overture to Nabucco. Kate Lochte speaks with the Paducah Symphony Orchestra's Maestro Raffaele Ponti about the March 14th concert.

Maestro Raffaele Ponti says this weekend's performance captures the value we all place in the spark of life. The evening begins with what he describes as a 'little gem:' "Rachmaninoff's Symphony in D minor "Youth" with a side-by-side performance from the Paducah Symphony Youth Orchestra.

The second selection is Respighi's Fontane di Roma (Fountains of Rome), a piece that depicts moods at different times of day, visiting the famous fountains of Rome. The first fountain is at dawn and the final is at sunset. The pieces capture the mood, energy, frolicking of children, tourists and atmosphere around the fountains. It's set in the early 20th century, but away from the Great War, Maestro Ponti says. Respighi was one of the few composers coming out of Italy writing symphonically in a time when much of the work was operatic.

The Paducah Symphony Youth Orchestra will rejoin for Verdi's Overture to Nabucco. Verdi had a difficult life, Maestro Ponti says, but this was his first successful opera, that came out of a dark time for him personally - following the death of his wife and newborn child. Maestro Ponti says it's a great overture because it defines the people of Italy.

The second half of the evening centers around Carl Nielsen's Symphony No. 4 "Inextinguishable." Set in the backdrop of World War One, Maestro Ponti says it's a battle of the tympani - with two on either side of the stage evoking bombardment and battle. Interspersed are very soft moments, beautiful and childlike. The piece ranges from huge orchestrations to chamber music and culminates in a glorious ending where the heavens open up and there's hope at the end of destruction, he says.

Maestro Ponti says the performance showcases the range and flexibility of the Paducah Symphony Orchestra's musicianship. He says, technically they can play anything he puts forth musically and can obtain and switch the sounds needed for each particular repertoire, which is a big achievement for any orchestra.

Ticket information at PSO's website

Matt Markgraf joined the WKMS team as a student in January 2007. He's served in a variety of roles over the years: as News Director March 2016-September 2019 and previously as the New Media & Promotions Coordinator beginning in 2011. Prior to that, he was a graduate and undergraduate assistant. He is currently the host of the international music show Imported on Sunday nights at 10 p.m.
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