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Livermore-Amador Symphony playing 'Dramatic Dvorak'

Performance this weekend will feature cellist Evan Kahn

The Livermore-Amador Symphony continues its 56th season with "Dramatic Dvorak," this Saturday at the Bankhead Theater in Livermore with music director Lara Webber conducting.

The concert will include AntonĂ­n Dvorak 's Symphony No. 7, Nikolai Rimsky-Korsakov's "Capriccio espagnol," and two works featuring cellist Evan Kahn as soloist: Dvorak's "Rondo for Cello and Orchestra," and George Kahn's "Concerto for Cello and String Orchestra."

"Capriccio espagnol" will open the concert.

"This music sparkles," Webber said. "Using Spanish folk songs and masterful orchestration, he creates a mini-masterpiece that is perfectly paced, with delicate solo passages, unique pizzicato techniques in the violins, and dramatic sweeps of sound through the whole orchestra."

Next, the orchestra will perform George Kahn's "Concerto for Cello and String Orchestra," featuring cello soloist Evan Kahn, who is the son of composer George Kahn.

Evan Kahn graduated from Carnegie Mellon University with honors and received a master's in chamber music at San Francisco Conservatory of Music. He is principal cello in Symphony Silicon Valley, acting principal cello in Opera San Jose, and assistant principal cello in San Jose Chamber Orchestra and West Bay Opera. In addition, he is a resident cellist for several Bay Area music collectives and ensembles.

"My dad's concerto is, in a way, a journey from darkness into light," Evan Kahn said. "The first movement, brooding and languorous, angsty and inward, gives way in the opening cadenza of the second movement to a more extroverted timbral and harmonic palette; the horizon is near, and we're headed toward it.

"Then, suddenly, at the end of the movement, we feel a raindrop, and a joyous scattering of rhythms and vivacious dance carries us through the final movement."

Composer George Kahn said the piece is one long arc, from beginning to end, starting in the bottom of the low strings and ending in the upper reaches of the violins.

"The solo cello is poking and prodding, asking questions while the ensemble moves at its own pace and in its own trajectory," he explained. "My idea was to make the orchestra a living, breathing entity."

Evan Kahn also described the Dvorak rondo that he will play.

"A rondo is a piece of music that returns to the same subject material time and time again, diverging to different episodes in between," Evan Kahn said. "There's an inherent lightness to the primary theme of this work, so that even though it's definitively in a minor key, there's nothing serious about it.

"That said, there's no redemptive arc, no hero's journey -- true to its rondo form, it finishes right in the place it begins."

The concert will conclude with Dvorak.

"Dvorak's Symphony No. 7 is loaded with inspiration and emotion, darkness and light," Webber said. "Written in the midst of the death of his mother and the decline of his close colleague, Bedrich Smetana, this symphony bears the weight of those tragedies. It also shows Dvorak at his finest as a composer, realizing his full voice and finding extraordinary depth in his rich melodic ideas and development."

The concert begins at 8 p.m., preceded by a prelude talk from 7-7:30 p.m., and followed by a reception in the lobby hosted by the Symphony Guild.

Tickets are $26-$36. Go to www.bankheadtheater.org or the box office at 2400 First St., Livermore, or call 373-6800.

Patricia J. Boyle, immediate past president of the California Writers Club Tri-Valley branch, has been writing about the Livermore-Amador Symphony for seven years.

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