Guest conductor Heather Buchman to lead Symphony Syracuse on Friday

Preview: Symphony Syracuse will perform Mozart, Berlioz and Weber with special guests this weekend.

Symphony Syracuse has a mission: motivate the community to keep music on the stage. Serving this purpose, they will perform Mozart, Berlioz, and Weber at the Crouse Hinds Concert Theater on Friday evening under the baton of Guest Conductor Heather Buchman.

Buchman, a professor of music at Hamilton College, conducted the musicians in a benefit concert to assist the members of the defunct Syracuse Symphony Orchestra in May. Many consider that performance to have been the inspiration for the current symphony organization. 

“I have been blown away by the artistic level, focus, and energy the symphony musicians have preserved,” Buchman said. “What they’ve been able to do is really astonishing under what are very stressful circumstances. It’s a great honor to get to work with them again.”

The concert will open with the overture to Weber’s opera, Euryanthe. The opera is rarely heard in its entirety, not as celebrated as some of Weber’s other music because of its uneven plot. The music itself is effervescent and lyrical, giving the musicians an opportunity to show their capacity for a wide range of characters.

Guest artist Julia Pilant will join the symphony for Mozart’s Horn Concerto No. 3 in E-flat Major, K. 447. Pilant is currently a member of the Metropolitan Opera Orchestra, but she lived in Syracuse for 10 years prior to that, playing regularly with the SSO.

“I was beside myself when I heard Julia Pilant would be the soloist,” Buchman said. “Whenever she played in the horn section in the past, it just transformed the whole moment. That she was able to make herself available communicates her care for the organization. She has a huge following in town.”

Symphony Syracuse tries to choose soloists who had a connection to the SSO.

“I really treasure my time in Syracuse,” Pilant said. “And I'm really looking forward to playing with such supportive colleagues again. Everyone gives their best. It brings you up when you’re surrounded by people who are dedicated and committed, making you a better person and musician.”

The ensemble will also perform one of the great monuments of symphonic repertoire: Symphonie Fantastique. Berioz’s famous work provides a vivid experience for the audience, complete with a written narrative to accompany each movement. 

Symphonie Fantastique illustrates the story of unrequited love, lived out in an opium-induced dream. After falling in love with a woman at a ball, an artist is tormented by constant thoughts of her, represented by a musical motif—a technique used frequently in film music today. 

The fourth movement brings the artist to the scaffold, where he is executed by guillotine. Berlioz spared no graphic detail, using plucked strings to sound the bouncing of the artist’s decapitated head. The climax of horror, though, comes in the final movement, when the artist must observe his own funeral, attended by demons taunting his tortured memory. His beloved is hailed as the guest of honor and joins the imps in an orgy as his soul is judged.

This program provides a great deal of fodder for an exciting evening, performed by musicians who are fighting to be on stage. 

The Details

Who: Symphony Syracuse, with Guest Conductor Heather Buchman and Guest Artist Julia Pilant, horn

What: Works by Weber, Mozart, and Berlioz

When: Friday, November 18, 7:30 p.m.

Where: John Mulroy Civic Center, Syracuse, NY

Tickets: $15–$50, $10 for students with IDs.  Available at the OnCenter Box Office (315-435-2121) and at Ticketmaster (800-745-3000). Senior citizens may deduct 10% from their ticket price.

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