“But this entire centenary worldwide is around one piece of music — that’s unprecedented.”
In the century since “The Rite of Spring’s” premiere, it has remained a living piece, partly because of its rhythmic complexity that is constantly changing throughout the piece, Glozer said.
“As a work of art, it is so perfect,” she said.
One aspect of “The Rite of Spring” many people believe sparked the riot is the bassoon solo that starts off the piece — one that principal bassoonist John Pederson said is performed in such a high register that the instrument is almost unrecognizable.
“It’s a very treacherous solo. Anything can go wrong,” he said. “Even if you think you’re playing it correctly you can get a squeak or a squawk.”
Stravinsky expanded the range of instruments and raised the bar in terms of what was expected of them, which is why the bassoon solo is so difficult, Pederson said.
“It’s very much a landmark piece in classical music, and even though it’s 100 years old, it still sounds very fresh today, and that’s really hard to do,” Pederson said.
The North Carolina Symphony has performed “The Rite of Spring” multiple times in the past and will always keep the piece in their repertoire, said music director and conductor Grant Llewellyn.
“For any self-respecting symphony orchestra, to play ‘The Rite of Spring’ is a little bit like an actor having to play Hamlet,” Llewellyn said.
Because the symphony orchestra performs a new piece each week, they only have three rehearsals before the concert performance, which is a big challenge for the orchestra, Llewellyn said.
“Every time one approaches ‘The Rite of Spring,’ it is with a little bit of fear and trepidation because it’s that sort of a piece,” he said. “It never gets easy.”
Llewellyn also said “The Rite of Spring” has a sonic impact that can only really be appreciated in a venue like Memorial Hall, with world-class acoustics to accentuate the intricacies of the piece.
“It is the perfect setting to really appreciate this music.”
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