Zeke Feltrow, music director, conducts the Concord Orchestra. Courtesy photo

A ‘defiant’ symphony closes Concord Orchestra season 

May 16, 2024

By Laurie O’Neill Correspondent

“Music is there for everybody,” said the composer John Williams. “It’s a river we can all put our cups into and drink it and be sustained by it.”

The Concord Orchestra hopes classical music lovers will drink deeply from its final concert of the season on May 18 and 19. 

The orchestra will present a program titled “Defiance,” featuring Johannes Brahms’ “Variations of a Theme by Haydn,” Ludwig August Lebrun’s “Oboe Concerto No. 1,” and Dmitri Shostakovich’s “Symphony No. 5.”

Shostakovich’s symphony, the principal work on the program, inspired the concert title. In the 1930s, during the Stalin era, Shostakovich was devastated when he wrote an opera called “Lady Macbeth of Mtsensk,” and it was condemned by the Communist party, in part because Stalin had been appalled by the music’s dissonances. 

Shostakovich knew this meant he was in danger of being arrested by the authorities and that his next public work had to be far less controversial. But instead of creating something palpably patriotic that would please the Communist Party, he composed “Symphony No. 5,” which the censors tolerated. 

A masterpiece in the making

In doing so, he created a masterpiece characterized by wry melodies of forced celebration and an eloquent largo movement that brought many in the audience to tears at its premiere. 

With its May concert, the orchestra concludes its first full season under Zeke Feltrow, its new music director. 

Alex Kinmonth will perform an oboe concerto. Courtesy Photo

Carlisle native Alex Kinmonth will perform Lebrun’s work, a rarely heard classical oboe concerto. Kinmonth was appointed principal oboe of the Detroit Symphony Orchestra in 2015 at 21, making him one of the youngest principal musicians in a major American orchestra. 

A graduate of Juilliard, Kinmonth makes regular solo appearances with the DSO and other orchestras across the country.

“Defiance” will be performed on Saturday, May 18, at 8 p.m. and Sunday, May 19, at 2:30 p.m.  The conductor will give a pre-concert talk at 7:15 p.m. on May 18.

Tickets for adults and seniors are $25, and admission for those under 18 is free. For tickets and information, call (978) 369-4967.