Of music, Plato wrote “Music is a moral law. It gives soul to the universe, wings to the mind, flight to the imagination and charm and gaiety to life and to everything.”
These ideals squelched under the guise of patriotism or lost in the cacophonous songs of war inspired composers such as Ludwig van Beethoven and Dmitri Shostakovich. Both men lived, composed and gave “soul to the universe” while living during times marked with great social change and challenge.
Both composers’ music echoed sentiment of conquest under the victorious baton of Dearborn Symphony Conductor Kypros Markou March 13. Accomplished guest violinist Daniel Phillips dominated the night performance with masterful execution at the Ford Community & Performing Arts Center.
The fourth of six concerts in the Dearborn Symphony’s 53rd season, titled “Triumph of the Human Spirit,” opened with Beethoven’s “Egmont Overture.” The powerful opening resonated with Beethoven’s appreciation for the concept of individual freedom while the symphony’s admiration for beautiful musical music scored.
The festivity continued with Beethoven’s “Violin Concert in D major, Op.61.” Commanding understanding of the strings expressed as Phillips unleashed an unyielding melodic articulation marked with riveting precision and breathless intonation.
The second half of the concert showcased Shostakovich’s “Symphony No. 9.” Shostakovich composed while under the scrutiny of a government unable to embrace art it did not value or understand.
Solomon Volkov, journalist, musicologist, quoted the composer as saying, “They wanted a majestic ninth … But when the war against Hitler was won, (Stalin) went off the deep end, like a frog puffing himself up to the size of an ox, and now I was supposed to write an apotheosis of Stalin? I simply could not.”
So instead of the usual majestic grand configuration, Shostakovich created a lighthearted symphony peppered with humor, especially with playful wind instrumentals. The Dearborn Symphony embraced the work with serious-centered intent and delivered a targeted majestic performance.
April 17 marks the next Dearborn Symphony performance at the Ford Center. The show will feature the music of Strauss, Tomasi, Amaya, Respighi and guest trombonist Ken Thompkins on. The concert is scheduled to begin at 8 p.m.
Ticket prices range from $10 to $30 and can be bought in advance or at the door. For more information go to dearbornsymphony.org or call 313-565-2424.