J'nai Bridges will be among the quartet from the Ryan Opera Center, of the Lyric Opera of Chicago, performing at Illinois Philharmonic Orchestra's May 11 concert in Frankfort. | File photo
ILLINOIS PHILHARMONIC ORCHESTRA
♦ 8 p.m. May 11
♦ Lincoln-Way North Performing Arts Center, 19900 S. Harlem Ave., Frankfort
♦ Tickets, $35-$55 or $5 for students with identification
♦ (708) 481-7774; ipomusic.org
♦ Under maestro David Danzmayr, the group will perform Aaron Copland’s “Lincoln Portrait” followed by Ludwig van Beethoven’s “Symphony No. 9.”
Updated: June 11, 2013 6:15AM
Most people would find it difficult to conceive that Ludwig van Beethoven could create one of his greatest symphonies while he was virtually deaf.
But Steven Grives, director of choral ensembles at DePaul University, said Beethoven’s genius also was his skill to overcome his disability by improvising.
“He could conceive the music in his head,” Grives said, “and I understand that he actually performed the notes on a piano by removing the legs and resting the piano on his lap so he could feel the vibrations.”
That doesn’t explain how the then-aging Beethoven managed to create choral music as well. Suffice it to say, Beethoven was so brilliant that some of his techniques defy explanation.
But generations have enjoyed Beethoven’s masterpieces and can again on May 11 as the Illinois Philharmonic Orchestra under dynamic new maestro David Danzmayr will perform Beethoven’s renown “Symphony No. 9” at the Lincoln-Way North Performing Arts Center in Frankfort.
“No. 9,” also known simply as “Choral,” premiered in 1824. It also is the first symphony to include the human voice at the same level as the instruments.
The choral music is featured in the fourth and final movement.
So Danzmayr has invited the 90-person DePaul choral ensemble under Grives plus a quartet of soloists from the Ryan Opera Center, of the Lyric Opera of Chicago, to perform with the IPO.
The Ryan quartet will consist of sopranos J’nai Bridges and Tracy Cantin, baritone David Govertsen and tenor Bernard Holcomb.
“I am really happy for the soloists from the Ryan Opera Center,” Grives said. “They are young, budding singers on the cusp of potentially great careers.”
Beethoven’s “Ninth” is a lengthy symphony — even for its time — at about an hour and 15 minutes. The piece will take up the entire second half of the IPO concert.
The first half will highlight Aaron Copland’s “Lincoln Portrait,” a classical orchestral work by the American composer as part of a patriotic war effort in 1942.
Copland used material from speeches and letters of Lincoln including “Camptown Races” and “Springfield Mountain,” a probable reference to the president’s Illinois hometown of Springfield.
The “Lincoln Portrait” will include some narrative recited by Henry Fogel, dean of the Chicago College of Performing Arts at Roosevelt University.
The concert concludes Danzmayr’s first season as IPO director.
The 2013-14 season will open Oct. 19 featuring pianist Terrence Wilson performing “Deux ex Machina,” the Chicago premiere of the Grammy Award-winning piano concerto by Michael Daugherty.
Don Snider is a local freelance writer.