a Rose by any other name

I don’t get it.

This coming January, 2014 the Charleston Symphony Orchestra is offering a single “themed” concert as part of their season:

“Go back in time once again with this season’s Time Machine. The theme is composer Pyotr Ilyich Tchaikovsky as a visionary, dreamer, and traveler. Join the CSO as we take you on a journey through the music and the mind of the master. This concert will inspire the dreamer in every listener, from Mélodie in E-flat major for Violin and Orchestra to the orchestral suite ‘Mozartiana.'”

Maybe I’m missing something, but considering the entire CSO season is heavily steeped in the distant past, the title appears to be superfluous.

Perhaps “Time Machine” is meant to be ironic, which is emphasized by the phrase, “once again.” For as we know, the CSO’s season is composed of works by Bach, Barber, Beethoven, Berlioz, Dvorák, Elgar, Grieg, Liszt, Mendelssohn, Mozart, Rachmaninoff, Rossini, Saint-Saëns, Schumann, Strauss, Stravinsky (Firebird), Vaughan Williams, and yes… a little more Tchaikovsky.

Other than the fact that this concert focuses on a single composer, it does not appear to be different from the main collection.  So, why is it marketed as the “Time Machine”?

Compounding my confusion: Tchaikovsky’s Orchestral Suite no. 4 “Mozartiana” is a further tribute to the past, commemorating the one-hundredth anniversary of Mozart’s Don Giovanni.  An 1887 piece based on a 1787 piece… it’s a bit like looking through the wrong end of a telescope.

No other piece programmed that evening is dedicated to music history.  The 2013 concert dubbed “Time Machine” featured the works of Haydn, and none of those works appear to have been dedicated to / inspired by his predecessors either.  So it looks as if “Mozartiana” alone is not the cause for this strange marketing scheme.

On another note, it’s nice to see that the CSO has at least one token “new work” this season. John Harbinson’s Remembering Gatsby (1985) will also be performed in January (comfortably couched between Berlioz’s Symphonie Fantastique and Rachmaninoff’s Rhapsody on a Theme of Paganini).  Oddly, this too is a piece looking to the distant past…


[end thoughts]
Harbinson’s piece was written in the same year as the movie Back to the Future.
Perhaps that should be the “Time Machine” concert…?

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