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Cal Poly Symphony opens season Dec. 4 with music by Jacob, Walker, Beethoven 

Cal Poly Symphony opens season Dec. 4 with music by Jacob, Walker, Beethoven–The Cal Poly Symphony will present the music of Gordon Jacob, George Walker, and Ludwig van Beethoven in its fall virtual presentation at 7:30 p.m. Friday, Dec. 4.

In addition to the 20-minute concert portion, videos from fall quarter rehearsals will be shown and student musicians will be interviewed about their experiences with the challenging process of preparing for and presenting a concert during a pandemic.

“For the first time, the Cal Poly Symphony has been rehearsing as a hybrid ensemble,” said conductor David Arrivée. A small group of string players have been rehearsing in person, while others join virtually via Zoom. Outside, some of the members of the wind and brass sections rehearse separately and are joined by others via Zoom. All those who meet in-person follow all health and safety protocols. The concert will feature recordings of these disparate groups, combined into a single performance.

The program will begin with the first movement of Jacob’s “Old Wine in New Bottles,” a collection of old English folk tunes — the “Old Wine” of the title — arranged for wind instruments. The first movement, titled “The Wraggle Taggle Gypsies,” is based on the tune of the same name.

The program will continue with Walker’s “Lyric for Strings,” written when the composer was doing graduate work at the Curtis Institute of Music. Originally titled “Lament,” the work was an artistic response to the death of Walker’s grandmother.

Walker began his career as a piano virtuoso and gave his first public recital at the age of 14. He graduated with highest honors from Oberlin College and was one of the first Black Americans to graduate from Curtis in 1945. His career included many firsts for a Black instrumentalist: he was the first to perform in Manhattan’s Town Hall, the first to perform with the Philadelphia Orchestra, the first to be signed by a major management, the first to earn a doctorate from the Eastman School of Music, and in 1996, he became the first Black composer to be awarded the Pulitzer Prize in music.

The program will also include the second movement of Beethoven’s Symphony No. 7 in A Major, which was composed between 1811 and 1812, while the composer was restoring his health in Teplice, a spa town in Bohemia. At the 1813 premiere, conducted by Beethoven at a charity concert for soldiers wounded in the Battle of Hanau, the Allegretto second movement was met with such enthusiasm that it had to be encored. This popularity began a long tradition of performing this movement separately.

Tickets to the virtual event are $5 and can be purchased online from the performing arts center. To order by phone, call 805-SLO-4TIX (805-756-4849) between 9 a.m. and 5 p.m. Monday through Friday.

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