‘Serenity And Gratitude’: SoNA back Nov. 5 with Mozart and Beethoven classics

‘Serenity And Gratitude’: SoNA back Nov. 5 with Mozart and Beethoven classics

The Symphony of Northwest Arkansas, under the baton of Maestro Paul Haas, will return to the Walton Arts Center stage Nov. 5 for the first time since covid-19 decimated the arts throughout the nation. The program will Mozart’s Clarinet Concerto, with SoNA’s principal clarinetist Trevor Stewart; Romero’s Fuga con pajarillo; and Beethoven’s Third Symphony, the Eroica — all generally described as classical music.

“I feel strongly that we should stop calling it classical music,” says Haas, who made his reputation with SoNA audiences when he chose the Razorback Fight Song as the encore to his first concert as its conductor. “It’s orchestral music, or music played by a large group of fantastic musicians on a stage. There is great music in all genres, and orchestral music is no exception.

“This is a concert full of incredible music we were supposed to perform during the pandemic, and I decided to gather everything together into a package I thought would launch us and our audience into the new season with gusto.”

Classical or orchestral, Haas believes Beethoven’s Third Symphony, “a story about triumphing against great odds, clearly resonates with all of us during these difficult times.”

“Simultaneously, part of this story is about the disillusionment Beethoven felt when his hero Napoleon Bonaparte crowned himself emperor, and — for me — this speaks to how all of us start to question the ‘truths’ we all grow up with as we become mature adults,” Haas elaborates. “It’s also quite simply an incredible piece of music, and it singlehandedly broke the mold in terms of symphonic writing, paving the way for the entire Romantic era in music.”

Mozart’s Clarinet Concerto is, like all concertos, a joy to perform, Haas goes on, “and the ability to share leadership with another musician is something I personally relish. It’s especially fun to feature a soloist from our own orchestra, and Trevor is an astonishingly gifted and musically mature clarinetist.”

Stewart, who grew up outside Mulberry and attended Alma schools, says he was raised in a rock ‘n’ roll household — his dad was a drummer — and didn’t fall in love with orchestral music until they visited Chicago together when he was in seventh grade.

“He took me to see the Chicago Symphony, and we had incredible seats that overlooked the entire orchestra up close,” Stewart reminisces. “I can’t recall the full program, but that night they played Dvorak’s Symphony No. 9 (New World Symphony). I remember being in awe surrounded by the intensity of the music, the sheer power of the CSO brass section, and the magic of a small town kid taking in the views of Symphony Center and bustling energy of Chicago’s Michigan Avenue.”

He went on to begin learning the Mozart concerto in eighth grade, after he’d discovered he was good enough at clarinet not to abandon it for the saxophone.

“I had a fabulous clarinet teacher from the very beginning who exposed me to all of the great works. My teacher burned a CD for me with THE famous Mozart Concerto recording with Robert Marcellus and the Cleveland Orchestra,” he remembers. “I probably listened to that CD until it no longer worked!

“As a kid with newly acquired dial-up internet, I also frequented the website of Italian clarinet virtuoso Alessandro Carbonare, only because the background music on his site was his recording of the third movement of Mozart’s Concerto,” Stewart adds. “How nerdy! I would listen to the Mozart while going to sleep, or I would mentally practice and memorize the notes as I faded off — having it memorized from a young age really pays off now as I prepare to play it for the first time with an orchestra. Of course, I re-learned the piece countless times throughout my studies, and the way I approach the piece has changed and matured over time.

“With this concert being the big return to stage after a year and a half of sacrifice, hardship, stress, and the unknown, I want the audience to simply close their eyes and let the sound wash over them,” Stewart concludes. “I want this piece to take them on a journey that guides them through whatever they may be feeling or experiencing that evening, hopefully ending with a feeling of serenity and gratitude.”




‘Mozart And Beethoven’

WHEN — 7:30 p.m. Nov. 5

WHERE — Walton Arts Center in Fayetteville

COST — $35-$57

INFO — sonamusic.org or 443-5600

FYI — Concertgoers must show proof of vaccination or proof of a negative covid test taken within 72 hours of the performance date.

Categories: Music