SPSO Ends Season with Tchaikovsky’s ‘Violin Concerto’ and Wagner’s ‘Ring Cycle,’ April 6

By Purnell T. Cropper | April 4, 2013

The Southeastern Pennsylvania Symphony Orchestra culminates the 2012-2013 Season on Saturday, April 6, at 8 p.m. at Arcadia University with a performance of the legendary Violin Concerto by Tchaikovsky and orchestral highlights of Wagner’s epic Ring Cycle.

Featuring Violinist Stephen Cepeda, Tchaikovsky’s Violin Concerto is a pyrotechnical panoramic display for any violinist. In addition to the virtuosic solo, the work is complete with Tchaikovsky’s hallmark sweeping melodies and grandness. From elegance to vivacious rhythms, it remains a staple of in all of music and is one of the most beloved concertos for audiences today.

Beginning his violin studies at the age of seven, Violinist Stephen Cepeda has appeared as soloist with orchestras throughout the United States, and recently completed a tour of Southeast Asia, including a recital at the American Embassy in Vietnam.  He has been noted for his performances of concertos by Mendelssohn, Sibelius, and Tchaikovsky, and currently serves as the concertmaster of the Helena Symphony Orchestra, where SPSO Music Director Allan R. Scott also serves as artistic director and principal conductor. Cepeda is also a founding member of the nationally award-winning Meritage String Quartet, which was recently part of a PBS documentary.

“It is rare that a violinist of this caliber has such versatility,” explains Maestro Scott. “Mr. Cepeda not only is a top level concertmaster and a superb chamber musician, he is one of finest virtuosic soloists of his generation.  Tchaikovsky’s Violin Concerto is one that should be heard and seen, as it is a wondrous feat to witness.”

The performance continues with orchestral highlights from opera mastermind Richard Wagner’s Ring Cycle. Even as one of the most controversial figures in all of music, Richard Wagner (1813-1883) remains one of the most influential figures in history. In his lifetime, and for decades after, Wagner inspired almost fanatical devotion among his followers, and to some, even had god-like status.

Spanning over four operas (totaling over 16 hours), the plot of Wagner’s Ring Cycle is based on German and Nordic legends where a magic ring forged from gold found in the Rhine River transforms the lives of two generations of gods and demi-gods. Other characters include dwarfs, giants, a dragon, mermaids, and a romance between a mortal and a deity. Despite the overwhelming similarities to J.R.R. Tolkien’s Lord of the Rings (written from 1937-1949) with Wagner’s operas, Tolkien always denied any connection other than their mutual interest in Nordic mythology.

SPSO’s performance encompasses highlights from all four of Wagner’s operas.  “Wagner’s orchestral music is as vivid and brilliant as the complete operas themselves,” explains Maestro Scott. “For those who are Wagner fans, they will hear some of the greatest moments recalling the epic story. For those new to the Ring Cycle, they will experience a thrilling adventure that conjures up imagination and fantasy that is at the heart of this incredible masterpiece.”

This not to be missed concert is Saturday, April 6, at 8 p.m. in the Commons Great Room. Single tickets are available for $25 and $5 for students online or at the door. For more information, contact the Southeastern Pennsylvania Symphony at 215-361-3099 or spso.info.