The Fresno State Symphony Orchestra, directed by Dr. Thomas Loewenheim, will present its second concert of the season “From Russia with Love” on Saturday, Dec. 8, at 8:00 p.m. in the Department of Music Concert HallTickets are $15 general, $10 for employees and seniors and $5 for students. 

The concert will present three beautiful works written by Russian composers.  The show will open with Alexander Glazunov’s Carnival Overture, which is dominated by vital rhythms and brilliant tone colors.  The overture, which will be conducted by the graduate conducting student, Joseph Cargill, is scored for a large orchestra, with the use of an organ in a central section of the piece.

Igor Stravinsky, one of the most influential composers during the twentieth century, and one of the most important Russian composers of his time wrote his first symphony early in his career, predating his three famous ballets.  The symphony is strongly inspired by Tchaikovsky, Glazunov, and Mussorgsky, and in the first movement, his early fascination with Wagner is also present.  His use of whole-tone harmonies and tri-tonal melodic passages are regarded as Russian characteristics and reflect the influences of Rimsky-Korsakov’s contemporary compositions. 

Tchaikovsky had just reached the end of a troubled marriage that lasted only nine weeks and was reflecting on recent events while he wrote his most famous and most performed symphony, his fourth.  He came to the conclusion that Fate was “the fatal power which prevents one from attaining the goal of happiness … There is nothing to be done but to submit to it and lament in vain.”  The opening theme of the symphony represents Fate.  The struggles of his life and the role of fate are shown in the continual reappearance of the Fate theme throughout the work, while the famous finale is a virtuosic tour de force that still challenges the best orchestras today.