Symphony opener celebrates Dvorak
Lake Forest Symphony
James Lumber Center for the Performing Arts, College of Lake County campus, 19351 W. Washington St., Grayslake
8 p.m. Sept. 7-8; pre-concert talks by musicologist Jim Kendros at 7 p.m.
(847) 295-2135; www.lakeforestsymphony.org
Updated: August 22, 2012 3:14PM
From the podium and in private conversation, Alan Heatherington, artistic director of the Lake Forest Symphony, has hailed the Czech master Antonin Dvorak as one of the great composers of the later Romantic period.
So it is no surprise that the opening concert of the Lake Forest Symphony’s 55th season is all-Dvorak all the time.
Concertmaster Ilya Kaler will solo in the Dvorak Violin Concerto and “Romance.” The program opens with the composer’s “Slavonic Dances” and closes with his Symphony No. 6.
Heatherington, himself a violinist, has not only studied and conducted the composer’s works, but he and his wife Gayle have traveled to Dvorak sites throughout the world.
Which means they’ve visited Spillville, Iowa, a mere 248 miles from the concert hall in Grayslake. “We also went up to Minnehaha Falls in Minneapolis,” Heatherington said. “Dvorak visited it just once, but found it delightful. Afterward he wrote his Sonatina for Violin and Piano, which I have played many times.”
On their frequent European trips the Heatheringtons have been made pilgrimages to numerous composers’ homes and museums, but Dvorak has been a particular favorite. “I’m trying to live Dvorak’s life,” the conductor admitted, laughing a little. “We’ve been to his birth home in Nelahozeves in Bohemia, to his home in Prague and the church where he played for daily mass.”
They were also given a private tour of the country estate of Prince Lobkowicz by one of Dvorak’s granddaughter, the late Vera Johnova. “The Lobkowicz family were patrons of Dvorak,” Heatherington said. “The estate is not open to the public. We were very lucky to see it.”
The reason for all such visitations, he continued, is to understand the time and place where the music was written. “After I visit a place, I can hear it in the music,” he insisted. “It makes a difference to me.”
Dvorak the man inspires the conductor even more than the music. “His priorities impress me most,” he continued. “They were God, family, nature and music — in that order, and I think he had that right.”
During the opening concert Heatherington will receive the Conductor of the Year award for 2012 from the Illinois Council of Orchestras.
The Lake Forest Symphony’s 2012-13 season concerts are: “Virtuosic Trumpet” Oct. 19 and 20; “Sizzling Strings” Jan. 25 and 26; “Stormy Tchaikovsky” March 15 and 16; and “Mahler and Master Singers,” with the Chicago Master Singers and soloists Michelle Areyzaga, soprano, and Sarah Holman, mezzo-soprano, May 17 and 18.