CSO prepares for season’s coda, welcomes new soloists

Matt Burkhartt | Daily file photo
The Chautauqua Symphony Orchestra performs its first concert of the season June 28 in the Amphitheater.

It’s a finale of firsts tonight as the Chautauqua Symphony Orchestra puts a bow on its 86th season at 8:15 p.m. in the Amphitheater.

Guest conductor Daniel Boico has the task of guiding the CSO to a triumphant conclusion this evening, while piano duo Greg Anderson and Elizabeth Joy Roe hold the privilege of being the season’s last soloists.

“It’s always an honor to be an opening or closing act for a festival,” Roe said. “We want the concert to be equal parts a celebration of the music at hand and everything over the course of the entire season. The whole concert will have a celebratory feel, I assure you.”

Known for their energetic performances and provocative music videos — cinematic, visually intense offerings uncommon in the classical world — Roe and Anderson will be playing Francis Poulenc’s Concerto for Two Pianos in D Minor as the second of three scheduled pieces in tonight’s show.

It’s a perfect vehicle, Anderson said, to express the uniqueness of dual piano soloists and the adrenaline for which he and Roe are known.

“It’s our first time performing the concerto, so we’re already bringing extra excitement and energy into the show,” he said. “The first movement is rollicking fun, the second Mozart-esque but with a demented feel, and the third movement is actually filled with children’s rhymes played almost mockingly. It’s like a bully breaking up a game of ring-around-the-rosie.”

Not only is it the duo’s first time performing Poulenc’s concerto, but it’s also their first time performing in Chautauqua and their introduction to the conductor Boico.

Both Anderson and Roe admit that the sheer level of unfamiliarity — neither of them have prior experience on the Institution’s pianos they’ll use tonight — but also feel the circumstance will contribute to an electric level of spontaneity as well.

“We always want the instrument and the atmosphere to be inspiring us as we go,” Anderson said. “In a live performance, we’re recreating the music but also reacting to the moment. You can never recapture that exact same musical and emotional conversation again after the performance is over.”

The piano concerto is bookended by a pair of lively, exalting works meant to add the pomp and flair worthy of a symphonic finale.

Boico’s program begins with “The Chairman Dances: Foxtrot for Orchestra,” by composer John Adams, and after featuring Anderson and Roe, finishes off the 2014 season with “Piano Quartet, Op.25 in G Minor; arr. Schoenberg” by Johannes Brahms.

The Brahms piece is one not on the CSO’s standard repertoire; Boico suggested it to Institution leadership after seeing the limited list of available pieces he had to choose from.

“The process wasn’t as if I had free reign over choice, and that’s normal for any music festival,” Boico said. “I want to go in and make the most wonderful music possible, and I think the program we have is a wonderful vehicle with which to do that.”