Select Mondays 7pm

Encore on WNIU is an occasional series which airs monthly.   Host, Eric Hradecky is pleased to present another season of the Rockford Symphony Orchestra's Classic Series.  Each broadcast features the performance and commentary from Maestro Steven Larsen.  Tune in at 7:00 p.m. for your premier access to the Rockford Symphony Orchestra.

November 3, 2014 Celebrating International Peace Day

Steven Larsen, Conductor 

Bella Hristova, violin

Sir Andrzej Panufnik Procession for Peace
Raymond Horton Make Gentle the Life of This World
Sergey Prokofiev Violin Concerto No. 1 in D major  (Bella Hristova, violin)
Carl Nielsen Symphony No. 4 “The Inextinguishable”

Panufnik, a Polish composer who defected to Britain, dedicated his Procession for Peace “to peace-loving people of every race and religion, of every political and philosophical creed.” Prokofiev wrote his dreamy first violin concerto during World War I, and its peaceful serenity stands in sharp contrast to that War’s destruction. Danish composer Nielsen wrote his Fourth Symphony against the backdrop of that war, giving it the subtitle “The Inextinguishable”, referring to the power of the human will to live.

The International Day of Peace, established by United Nations resolution in 1981, provides an opportunity for individuals, organizations, and nations to create practical acts of Peace on a shared date (September 21). Initially begun as a day for warring countries to lay down their arms enabling aid workers to freely tend to those in need, the day has grown in significance as both an effective tool for aid workers and also as a real example of the impact acts of peace can have on a community, nation, and world.

January 5, 2015  Dreams of the Fallen

Steven Larsen, Conductor
Jeffrey Biegel, piano and the Mendelssohn Chorale

Barber Adagio for Strings
Jake Runestad Dreams of the Fallen (Jeffrey Biegel, piano and the Mendelssohn Chorale)
Dvořák Symphony No. 5 in F major, op. 76

Rockford native Jake Runestad calls his Dreams of the Fallen “A Musical Response to War”, which seeks to express life through the eyes of a soldier, both during combat and after returning home. The RSO has co-commissioned this powerful work, featuring pianist Jeffrey Biegel and the Mendelssohn Chorale. Barber’s Adagio for Strings, written in 1936 and a familiar icon of mourning and cathartic pathos, opens the program. Dvořák’s Fifth Symphony offers a bucolic and cheerful antipode, displaying the young Czech composer’s emerging confidence in his talent.

February 9, 2015 The Genius of John Williams

The RSO pays tribute to one of America’s greatest composers – and certainly one of the greatest composers of film music ever! Over his six-decade career, Williams has scared the wits out of us (Jaws; Jurassic Park), made us weep (Schindler’s List; Saving Private Ryan), swashed our buckles (Indiana Jones), brought out the child in us (E.T.; Harry Potter) and made us all science fiction fans (Star Wars), all through the magical sounds of the symphony orchestra.

March 23, 2015  Memories from Times of War

Steven Larsen, Conductor
Amy Conn, soprano

Robert Kurka Suite from The Good Soldier Schweik
Barber Knoxville, Summer of 1915
John Philip Sousa In Flanders Fields
Rheinhold Glière Concerto for Coloratura Soprano and Orchestra (Amy Conn, soprano)
Ravel Le Tombeau de Couperin

The Good Soldier Schweik is a satirical Czech anti-War novel recounting the adventures of a hapless soldier in World War I, who Czechs adopted as their national personification. Czech/American composer Kurka wrote a darkly comic opera on Schweik, using a jazzy orchestra of only winds, brass and percussion.   Acclaimed soprano Amy Conn makes her RSO debut in three contrasting works. John Philip Sousa wrote a simple but moving setting of J.D. McRae’s famous poem, “In Flanders Fields the Poppies Grow”, honoring the thousands of anonymous war victims buried there. Barber’s dramatic setting of text by William Agee hearkens back to a rural America as yet unscarred by World Wars. Glière’s unusual concerto, written shortly after World War II, offers a dazzling display of the coloratura voice. Ravel ostensibly wrote his Tombeau as a tribute to baroque composer François Couperin, but dedicated its movements to friends who had died in World War I.

April 20, 2015  An American Salute

Steven Larsen, Conductor

Morton Gould American Salute
Steve Heitzeg & Amy Scurria We Are Met at Gettysburg
Aaron Copland Symphony No. 3

Gould’s famous American Salute, an electrifying set of variations on the Civil War tune, “When Johnny Comes Marching Home,” leads to a touching remembrance of Americans, whether Union or Confederate, who lost their lives in the Civil War. A commission by the Philadelphia Orchestra produced a rare partnership of two young composers who created this work in 2003. Copland’s final symphony, premiered in 1946, captures in sound the confidence of the World’s undisputed superpower, post-war America, building a thrilling climax from Copland’s own “Fanfare for the Common Man.”

May 4, 2015 The Planets

Steven Larsen, Conductor
Ji, piano

Sir William Walton Spitfire Prelude and Fugue
Ravel Concerto for the Left Hand
Holst The Planets

British composer Walton, like wartime composers everywhere, wrote music to boost public spirits during the war. His Spitfire Prelude and Fugue was originally part of a 1942 movie called The First and the Few, and underscores the manufacture of Britain’s Spitfire airplane. The Austrian pianist Paul Wittgenstein lost his right arm in World War I, but was determined to continue his career. He commissioned a number of composers to write concertos for the left hand, of which Ravel’s is the most famous. Holst wrote his most renowned work, The Planets, between 1914 and 1916. The RSO’s performance will be accompanied by dazzling astronomical images collected by Chicago’s Adler Planetarium.

WNIU's Encore is made possible in part by support from the Illinois Arts Council.