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Take leave at orchestra’s ‘Ports of Call’

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By Tom Weber

weber@postbulletin.com

The Rochester Symphony Orchestra & Chorale, having flirted with the Arctic Circle in its last concert, is striking out for warmer climes.

Pieces of music originating in the Mediterranean basin will be featured in a "Ports of Call" concert Saturday.

"I really hope we have as much of an effect on the weather as we did with our ‘Nordic Notes’ concert," said Jere Lantz, RSOC director. "It was cold that night."

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If that’s the case, a thaw might be in store for the upcoming concert. "We wanted to do something exotic, southern and warm," Lantz said.

He might have added "unfamiliar" to the list.

"I don’t think the orchestra has ever performed any of these, and I have conducted only two of them," Lantz said.

The concert opens with Ibert’s "Escales" ("Ports of Call") which was written by a composer who had served in the French navy during World War I. "He follows a long tradition of French composers writing music about Spain," Lantz said.

Likewise, in Saint Saens’ Algerian Suite a French composer writes music about North Africa. The orchestra will play two movements, one reflecting the Arab heritage of the region and the other a French military march.

Also lending heat to the concert will be Manuel de Falla’s suite from "The Three Cornered Hat." "We’re doing three dances, and the music is so Spanish," Lantz said. "The final dance is simply the best Spanish music ever written."

Shifting perspectives, the orchestra will feature Gao Hong on the ancient Chinese instrument, the pipa, for two pieces. One of them is Concerto for Pipa and Orchestra by Oscar-winning composer Tan Dun.

"We’ve resolved to bring something to our audience that they wouldn’t normally hear," Lantz said. "I think we’ve done that."

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What: "Ports of Call" by the Rochester Symphony Orchestra & Chorale.

When: 7:30 p.m. Saturday.

Where: Mayo Civic Center Presentation Hall, 30 Civic Center Drive S.E.

Tickets: $22, $18, $12 and $6 (youth); at the RSOC office in the Riverside Building, (507) 286-8742, and at the civic center box office.

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