RALEIGH — A pair of the music world’s fastest rising stars joins the North Carolina Symphony next month for a colorful concert program, “Firebird.” Led by guest conductor Joana Carneiro and featuring soloist Johannes Moser on cello, the orchestra performs the 1945 version of Stravinsky’s legendary Firebird Suite, alongside stirring wartime music by English composers Benjamin Britten and Edward Elgar.
The performances take place at Lee Auditorium at Southern Pines’s Pinecrest High School on Thursday, Feb. 9 and Meymandi Concert Hall, in downtown Raleigh’s Progress Energy Center for the Performing Arts, on Friday and Saturday, Feb. 10-11. All three concerts begin at 8 p.m.
Noted for her vibrant performances in a wide variety of musical styles, Portuguese conductor Joana Carneiro has attracted considerable attention as one of music’s outstanding young conductors. She succeeded Kent Nagano as music director of the Berkeley Symphony and has since worked with the world’s finest orchestras and opera companies.
She is joined at center stage in Raleigh and Southern Pines by German-Canadian cellist Johannes Moser. Hailed by Gramophone magazine as “one of the finest among the astonishing gallery of young virtuoso cellists,” he performs Elgar’s haunting Cello Concerto, a reaction to World War I that remains a deeply moving contemplation on the forces that drive nations to war.
Powerful emotions underscore the entire evening, as the Symphony’s program opens with Britten’s Four Sea Interludes from the opera Peter Grimes. Inspired by the composer’s opposition to World War II, Peter Grimes premiered to great success in 1945, a symbol of England’s wartime resilience.
The Four Sea Interludes connect the opera’s four acts with evocative depictions of the North Sea and a fishing community at work. It is “music of overwhelming power,” said the longtime voice of The Metropolitan Opera, Milton Cross. “High-tensioned, realistic, surging with dramatic force, yet combined with passages that are poetic, sensitive, even tender.”
Closing the concert is music from Stravinsky’s legendary ballet The Firebird, the work that skyrocketed the Russian composer into international prominence. Stravinsky wrote three orchestral suites based on the ballet. The Symphony will perform the third and longest of these remarkable efforts, offering North Carolina concertgoers a rare immersion into one of the groundbreaking scores of the 20th century.
“We normally hear the 1919 version [of the Firebird Suite],” says Symphony Music Director Grant Llewellyn. “This version is a little bit more substantial. There will be a few surprises for the audience: much larger orchestrations and really spectacular music that we don’t often get to hear.”
Regular tickets to the Duke Medicine Classical Series Raleigh performances of “Firebird” on Friday and Saturday, Feb. 10-11 range from $33 to $63, with $30 tickets for seniors.
Regular tickets to the Southern Pines Series performance on Thursday, Feb. 9 range from $27 to $42.
Students receive $10 tickets in both venues.
For tickets, visit the North Carolina Symphony website at www.ncsymphony.org or call North Carolina Symphony Audience Services at 919-733-2750 or toll free 877-627-6724.
Meymandi Concert Hall is located in the Progress Energy Center for the Performing Arts, 2 E. South St., in Raleigh.
Lee Auditorium is located at Pinecrest High School, 100 Pinecrest School Road, in Southern Pines.