Miami Symphony offers a premiere for young people in the Design District

By Inesa Gegprifti

Eduardo Marturet conducted the Miami Symphony Orchestra with Athina Klioumi as narrator Sunday night in the Design District.

Eduardo Marturet conducted the Miami Symphony Orchestra with Athina Klioumi as narrator Sunday night in the Design District.

The Miami Symphony Orchestra, conducted by music director Eduardo Marturet, performed Sunday evening in the Miami Design District, offering a varied program that included a world premiere. 

Some questionable pitch and tempo inconsistencies apart, the orchestra performed with a high level of energy at the Moore Building-Elastika. The program offered two contrasting halves: Jean Sibelius’s Finlandia and Samuel Barber’s Violin Concerto in the first, and the debut of Karen LeFrak’s Sleepover at the Museum after intermission. 

Finlandia, was written in 1899 for the Finnish Press Pension Celebration—a veiled protest supporting press freedom in Finland during heavy censorship by tsarist Russia. A musical tableau of nationalistic features, Sibelius’s tone poem opens with a menacing proclamation from the brass and timpani that is quickly interrupted by a regal statement in the woodwinds joined by the strings. The celebratory section that ensues was projected with vibrancy and the woodwinds phrased the reverent hymn gracefully. 

Barber wrote the first two movements of his Violin Concerto in Switzerland in 1939, but finished the concerto with much delay as he was forced to return to the United States during the intensification of WWII. The first movement opens with an unassuming, sweet phrase that transitions into full-fledged romantic expression. The lyrical melodies and the distinct rhythmic fragments take on various guises throughout the first movement. The elegiac Adagio is jarringly juxtaposed with the virtuosic moto perpetuo finale. 

Although cool and hip, the Moore Building does not offer a generous natural acoustic. The poorly managed amplification challenged the balance between the soloist—concertmaster Daniel Andai— and the orchestra. 

Even with that issue, Andai succeeded as best he could in bringing out the rhapsodic nature of the first two movements, especially in the dramatic development of the Adagio, but was regrettably covered much of the time by the orchestra. The woodwinds proved to be a strong section delivering excellent solos. Throughout, Marturet and the orchestra managed to keep up with the rubatos, but lacked tightness of ensemble in the fiery finale. Andai stayed in control, although the restless passages were not always clearly articulated.

Sleepover at the Museum by philanthropist, composer and author Karen LeFrak marks the fifth collaboration with MISO. Based on LeFrak’s children’s book, this suite in thirteen movements depicts the journey of young Mason and his friends as they celebrate Mason’s birthday with an adventurous sleepover at a museum of natural history. With the goal of inspiring children’s imagination, the performance did not rely on visual aids. Instead, Athina Klioumi—actress and wife of the conductor—provided the narration of the story line before each movement.

The story is charming and the music accessible and imaginative. With many of the musical illustrations referencing some of the great composers of the past—Prokofiev, Saint-Saëns, or Mussorgsky—LeFrak’s composition retained a sense of purity and simplicity that was fitting to its young target audience.

She succeeded in capturing the features of each scavenger hunt clue with clever instrumentation and musical motives. A sneaky staccato bassoon represented the dark hallways; timpani rolls and stomping low brass for the dinosaurs; open sonorities and mysterious harp glissandi for the planets; and flickering woodwind patterns and an elegant cello melody for the butterflies. The work included a re-fashioned jubilant “Happy Birthday” scored for the full orchestra, before the majestic ending of the Epilogue.

Marturet and the Miami Symphony musicians seemed at home with this light work and delivered the best ensemble work of the evening in Lefrak’s premiere. 

Posted in Performances

2 Responses to “Miami Symphony offers a premiere for young people in the Design District”

  1. Posted Mar 17, 2019 at 8:15 pm by Michael Andrews

    The Miami Symphony still owes me and many other musicians money from previous seasons. They owe me $1,185 from the 2012-13 season. The Miami Symphony is stealing from its musicians and a wealthy conductor like Eduardo Marturet does not care.

  2. Posted Mar 19, 2019 at 12:43 pm by Dexter Dwight

    Just to set the record straight, the Miami Symphony Orchestra put a payment plan in place four years ago to honor past commitments made to musicians who performed with the orchestra during a very challenging financial time. This payment plan is ongoing and all musicians will be paid in full. The comment that Eduardo Marturet does not care about the well-being of the musicians could not be further from the truth.

    Dexter Dwight
    Principal Percussion
    The Miami Symphony Orchestra

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