Monday, July 11, 2011

Summer: A link between Lincoln and Vivaldi

While Lincoln and the surrounding areas experience days of sweltering heat alternating with furious thunderstorms, many people are trying to stay put in their air conditioned homes and offices. Long before air conditioning, a man known as the Red Priest experienced just such summers in Venice and was inspired to write "Summer."
The Red Priest was nicknamed such because of his red hair, although he was a Roman Catholic priest, his main job was that of music instructor and master of violin at a girls' orphanage. Born in Venice in 1678, Vivaldi became music instructor at the girls' school in 1703 and worked there for roughly 15 years. Although a celebrated violinist, Vivaldi composed for many instruments in order to feature different students in concerts at the school. Perhaps one of his most famous and well-loved pieces, and especially appropriate as Lincoln experiences extreme summer weather conditions is the second in a series of violin concertos of entitled "The Four Seasons."

"Summer" starts out calm, serene. In Lincoln, this may be compared to early on a summer morning, but it becomes agitated and excited briefly, perhaps to indicate the rising temperature. The second movement sounds like one might imagine the stillness of a hot afternoon. This movement reminds us that it is cool and calm if one stays in the shade or indoors, but intermittently, there is a threat of a coming storm which then breaks upon us in the third movement.

The third movement of "Summer" may arguably be the most famous movement from all the concertos of "The Four Seasons." A search for "Summer by Vivaldi" on iTunes yields hundreds of albums featuring this concerto. The albums may feature all Vivaldi pieces, or may be collections of summer music, Baroque music, or even rock and techno as this famous piece has been adapted by some artists in those modern genres.

The third movement is exciting, thrilling, and grips you like the thunder and lightning storm that it is meant to represent--and just like the grandiose, powerful storms that Nebraskans are used to seeing this time of year. One of these hot, summer afternoons, or maybe during the next thunderstorm, take a listen and feel how well the music matches the season!

Although summer weather may have subsided by the time October rolls around, Lincoln can also look forward to hearing Vivaldi's "The Four Seasons" on the opening concert of the LSO 2011-2012 season. This performance will feature the Chiara String Quartet and Rachel Barton Pine, violin. The performance will be at the LSO's new home, the Lied Center for the Performing Arts, and is on Friday, October 14 at 7:30pm.

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