Monday, October 4th, was the opening performance for the 57th season of the highly successful Roanoke Symphony Orchestra. The 76 member strong orchestra is led by Maestro David Stewart Wiley, who is in his 14th year as conductor, and recently had his contract extended thru 2013.
The opening featured the very talented violinist Natasha Korsakova, grand niece of the Russian composer Nikolai Rimsky-Korsakov. She also was the featured soloist for last year’s opening night. At the start it was evident it would be a special night when the sound of the borrowed violin echoed thru the Performing Arts Center. Korsakova was playing an instrument made by Giovanni Franceso Pressenda in 1843, and on loan from an Italian collector. With its hauntingly beautiful deep and rich sound, it was the perfect instrument for the evening’s program.
Korsakova and the orchestra opened with the fast paced “The Flight of the Bumblebee” and then played the very challenging “Concerto for Violin and Orchestra No. 1, Opus 99., written by Dmitri Shostakovich. Many of the passages are extremely difficult, but Korsakova and the orchestra were up to the challenge, performing beautifully with just a few minor flaws.
After intermission, Maestro Wiley and the orchestra played Elgar’s “Enigma” Variations, Opus 36., and closed the program with Tchaikovsky’s “Russian March.” The very appreciative audience gave a well deserved standing ovation lasting over 5 minutes and the orchestra replied with an encore.
After seeing and hearing a performance like this, it is easy to see why subscriptions and attendance are up for the highly acclaimed Roanoke Symphony Orchestra, Maestro Wiley, and Executive Director Beth Pline. Many orchestras and opera companies are feeling the pinch of this economy and either going out of business or declaring bankruptcy, but the RSO is alive and growing.
The combination of Pline and Wiley are obviously magic.By Jim Bullington [email protected]