The Valley Symphony Orchestra and Chorale will host a concert Friday, Feb. 2 at 8 p.m. in The University of Texas Pan American Fine Arts Auditorium.
Conductor Carl Seale will lead both groups in a joint concert of a pair of Mendelssohn's works. Felix Mendelssohn's Symphony Number 5, also known as the Reformation Symphony, is one of the featured works. His "Die Erste Walpurgisnacht" completes the program.
The latter piece is described as "ballad for chorus and orchestra." The words are by Goethe, the famous German poet. Translated as "The First Walpurgis Night," it expresses the composer's intention to show how this popular superstition came into being. It has frequently been described as the best secular oratorio of the 19th century.
The night of April 30 in Germany is Walpurgis Night, which is dedicated to Walpurga, a British saint and sister of St. Boniface, the Apostle of Germany. In the popular tradition, it is the night for great festivals of devils and witches in the Hartz Mountains.
This piece shows the druids and people forming the first such celebration.
As the legend is presented, it shows the druids, intent on maintaining their own religious system, scaring away Christians by pretending to be diabolical forms.
Goethe himself claimed that when the Christians came, they drove out the druids and their followers who had to take to the mountains to practice their religion in secret. The Christians thought their doings were diabolical, and hence, the legend arose.
Chorale members will sing the parts of the druids and their followers as they embark upon a night of mystery and adventure. Druids and heathens alternate in the Goethe poem as set to Mendelssohn's music.
Meanwhile, the Reformation Symphony is rich with lush romanticism. It has a lyric expressiveness, tender emotion and a blend of both strangeness and beauty. The two pieces together display the width and depth of the composer's range.
Tickets are available at the door, or reservations can be made by calling the symphony office at 956/630-5355 or 1-800-373-5810.