The Temple Symphony Orchestra’s concert Saturday features eight separate overtures in a performance of some of the most familiar and best-loved shorter works from the orchestral repertoire.
“Great Overtures” combines the effervescence of Rossini, Offenbach, Suppe and Bernstein with Russian gravitas (Shostakovich and Tchaikovsky) — plus movie music by John Williams.
Many of the musical themes will provoke “ah-hah” moments for listeners: Rossini’s “William Tell Overture” harkens back to radio and early TV’s “Lone Ranger” and has been reprised for Church of Latter-day Saints radio spots, in current broadcast rotation. The overture to “The Thieving Magpie” has been mined regularly since the invention of talkies, appearing in countless comedies and cartoons.
Tunes from Offenbach’s “Orpheus in the Underworld,” notably the “Can-Can,” provided musical excitement for Hollywood set pieces apart from the opera stage, and many listeners will recognize the “Poet and Peasant Overture” from performances by student wind ensembles playing band arrangements.
Leonard Bernstein’s “Candide” is one of the composer’s most successful works, and the overture showcases several of the principal songs from the Broadway satire.
American composer John Williams, known to moviegoers for “Jaws,” “Star Wars” and the “Harry Potter” films, is represented in his concert piece arranged from “The Cowboys.”
That 1972 film starred John Wayne and the overture finds Williams in his Aaron Copland mode, spinning folkish, Americana-influenced melodies that audiences have come to associate with the cinematic West.
Dimitri Shostakovich dashed off his “Festive Overture” in a mere three days, and it remains one of the Russian composer’s few completely joyful compositions.
The concert’s finale is the ultimate flag-waver: Tchaikovsky’s “1812 Overture.” Like the rest of the program, it’s an accessible, familiar, audience-friendly standby. Originally intended for performance outdoors, the piece has musical quotes from the Czarist national anthem, France’s “Marseillaise,” cathedral bells and, of course, the piece de resistance — actual cannon salvos.
No word from TSO conductor Tom Fairlie regarding the use of onstage ordnance, but this concert will definitely end with a bang.