Originally created 01/16/04

Concert to feature variety of Jewish composers' works



On Saturday, the Augusta Symphony will commemorate the Augusta Jewish Community Center's 150th anniversary with a MasterWorks concert featuring works by Jewish composers.

The concert will feature pieces by Mendelssohn, Milhaud, Saint-Saens and Bernstein. Augusta Symphony maestro Donald Portnoy said programming the concert was an educational experience. He said that because many of the composers chosen wrote secular music, he was unaware of their connection to the Jewish faith.

"It turns out that while Mendelssohn converted, his grandfather was a rabbi," he said. "Saint-Saens was also a surprise to me. So was Milhaud."

Dr. Portnoy said focusing on faith rather than a particular musical school, style or nationality allowed for a more diverse selection of music for this concert, ranging from melodic Mendelssohn to Broadway Bernstein.

"I think the audience will respond well to all these pieces," he said. "There is nothing here that might be considered difficult. It's a lot like going to five very good but very different restaurants."

Unlike many MasterWorks concerts, which feature guest artists brought in by the symphony, the soloists at the performance will be home-grown talent. Augusta Symphony concertmaster Ryan Kho will play Saint-Saen's Violin Concerto No. 3, and percussionist Matthew Jones will take center stage for Milhaud's rhythmically complex Concerto for Percussion.

"It's all worked out very well," Dr. Portnoy said. "It also fits in with something we are trying to do in featuring local soloists."

ON STAGE

THE PERFORMANCE: Featuring Our Own, presented by the Augusta Symphony

THE DATES: 8 p.m. Saturday, preview lecture at 7 p.m.

THE VENUE: Grover C. Maxwell Performing Arts Theatre, Augusta State University, 2500 Walton Way

THE COST: $15-$40; call 826-4705

Reach Steven Uhles at (706) 823-3626 or steven.uhles@augustachronicle.com.