Orchestra concert will be a ‘Macabre’ surprise

October 12, 2018


Members of the Rochester Symphony Orchestra faced a frightening experience when they gathered last week for the first rehearsal of the season.

On their music stands was an entirely new piece of music, “Frankenstein,” by Rochester composer Sebastian Modarelli.

“None of us have heard it yet,” said Jere Lantz, orchestra director. “With a brand-new piece, it’s kind of scary.”

Well, it’s called “Frankenstein,” after all, so it’s supposed to be scary. Modarelli, who is director of music at the Co-Cathedral of St. John in Rochester, wrote the piece to serve as the centerpiece of the orchestra’s concerts Oct. 13 and 14.

“I thought it would be a short, four-minute piece,” Modarelli said. By the time he wrote four movements depicting the life of Dr. Frankenstein’s creation, though, he handcrafted a 13-minute “monster.”

Modarelli said he prepped for the composition by reading the original Frankenstein novel. “It’s a beautiful and tragic story of this creature who is rejected by his creator,” he said. “He wants to be loved.”

With that as the concert’s centerpiece, Lantz was free to turn his attention to what he is calling the “Stitched-Together Symphony.”

The eight-movement symphony has been sewn together from widely disparate music selections suggested by orchestra supporters and associates. Here’s the catch, though: Lantz will not announce in advance what those pieces are, and in what order they’ll be played.

“There are some pieces that if you’re doing a spooky concert, you might expect to come up,” he said. Others are out of musical left field. “Some are centuries old, others are recent,” Lantz said.

Speaking of spooky, the concert will also feature “Danse Macabre” by Saint-Saens. Also on the program is Resphigi’s “Ancient Airs and Dances, Suite 2,” which bears a resemblance to Frankenstein in that it’s a collection of music fragments sewn together much like the creature himself was.

In addition to the main concerts on Oct. 13 and 14, the orchestra will present a free family concert on Oct. 11. That concert will feature a shorter program of selections from the main concert. Admission is free, but tickets are required and can be reserved at rochestersymphony.org and at 507-286-8742.

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