The Greenville Symphony Orchestra’s conductor and musical director, Edvard Tchivzhel, knows that his program for the final Chamber Orchestra performance of the season is a little unusual. Instead of the expected titans like Mozart, Beethoven, or Haydn, this performance will feature music by Erich Korngold, Nino Rota, and Kurt Weill, composers who don’t necessarily come to mind when people think of the phrase “chamber music.”
But that’s exactly what Tchivzhel intended.
“This particular program presents composers who are famous for film and theater music,” he says. “And they all did great work. Erich Korngold, for example, was praised by contemporaries like Mahler. He was a great piano player and composer and conductor. He worked with great filmmakers on movies like ‘A Midsummer Night’s Dream’ in 1935, ‘Captain Blood,’ and ‘The Adventures of Robin Hood’ with Errol Flynn. He wrote 16 movies and won an Oscar.”
The GSO will perform Korngold’s “Much Ado About Nothing, Op. 11,” along with Weill’s Suite from “Threepenny Opera” and Rota’s Concerto for Trombone. And their main reason for doing so is simple.
“Because it’s great music, but it’s music that’s not performed very much,” Tchivzhel says. “Sometimes we forget about great talents who create wonderful stuff, and it’s nice to bring attention to them.
In fact, part of Tchivzhel’s goal for the four-performance Chamber Extravaganza series every year is to bring something new to the table. “You’re supposed to bring something people love, something well known, but at the same time it would be boring and monotone to do the same things again and again. We want to broaden the horizons. We want people to hear something that maybe they didn’t know,” Tchivzhel notes. “It’s our mission to simply let them know what this music is. Something new and exciting is always part of the musical program. Yes, we will perform pieces by Tchaikovsky and Brahms, but why not enjoy all great music?”
And though Rota, who composed the immortal score for “The Godfather” films, and Weill, whose “Mack the Knife” is one of the most-covered standards in jazz, are certainly well-known, the pieces that Tchivzhel has chosen by these two composers are lesser-known works, something he did consciously.
“Some jewels are hidden,” he says. “They can even be pieces that were famous in their time but are now forgotten. There are many pieces like that in the musical repertoire. It’s what we’re trying to do: Combine well-known stuff with something new. We need some new things, or people will be tired of it. It’s the nature of human beings. We’re always looking for something fresh.”
Tchivzhel is also excited about the program because it will allow two of the orchestra’s players, Amy Yang Hazlett (bassoon) and Stephen Wilson (trombone), to shine as featured soloists. Rota’s Concerto for Trombone, in particular, is interesting because a piece with a trombone solo and an orchestra is rare.
And to add a little more freshness to the mix, there will be a surprise fourth piece performed at the end of the program. What is it you ask? Tchivzhel will only give one hint. “It will be something about Elvis Presley,” he says. “But I cannot give you any more details. But I promise you the audience will be blown away. They’ll be stunned. Shocked!”
Greenville Symphony Orchestra
Dates: March 24-26
Showtimes: 8 p.m. (March 24–25), 3 p.m. (March 26)