“Welcome Back” concert in Ohio with David Halen

Oct 8, 2021 | Conductor News

Recorded live on September 18, 2021. This stream on demand will be available from September 24 – October 23, 2021 via TheaterMania.stream. After purchasing a ticket, you will receive an email with the link.

The Ashland Symphony Orchestra is back on stage! We open our 2021-2022 concert season with a lifting musical journey celebrating love and fraternity, values that are keeping us together during these unique times. From Beethoven’s adoration sacrifice in his only opera Fidelio, we will land in the Caribbean region to experience the world premiere of Aquino’s exotic Lunga Pandemia, making us reflect in imaginative ways about how the pandemic has changed our lives. At the heart of this sentimental night, our spirits will be elevated with the Ashland premiere of Manuel de Falla’s ballet Amor Brujo (Love, The Magician). We welcome Ohio’s own exceptional violinist David Halen in his ASO debut, bringing us his fabulous and revered performance of Bruch’s passionate G minor Concerto. – Darwin Aquino, Conductor Finalist

Welcome Back!

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Program notes on this world premiere of Darwin’s “Lunga Pandemia”:

Lunga Pandemia

Dedicated to the Ashland Symphony Orchestra

What a long pandemic this has been for all of us.  When I first heard the news that the Ashland Symphony Orchestra’s in person concerts were back, the inspiration to compose an original piece to commemorate this very special occasion took a hold of me.  A deep felt thanks to the ASO for kindly receiving this new work.

In music, Lunga refers to what we know as fermatas which at times welcome those sudden pauses in music. This notion immediately captured my attention as a symbol of how our regular lives were stopped by the COVID-19 pandemic. Afterwards, I thought to myself how I could recreate the spread of a virus inside an orchestra. And so, the writing began.

Lunga Pandemia is divided in two larger sections where each one has two internal parts: First dose (I – The Air / II -Loneliness) and Second dose (III – A Masqued Ball / IV – Finale?). All the musical material is connected from the beginning to end.

The Air represents how the rapid spread of COVID came silently towards us. Starting as a quiet heartbeat that is embodied by the bass drum, it raises its speed as a menacing solo violin transforms the texture of the entire orchestra. This sonic journey takes us from a restful unison to massive dissonances. As the virus is now with us, the piece moves into Loneliness where a tubular bell noisily explodes letting us know that the air has been compromised.  This is followed by a Caribbean nostalgic dance led by a tender English Horn solo. This solo is a reminiscent of how my family in the Dominican Republic has always been in my heart during this pandemic.

I remember how we all abruptly started to wear masks. Which brings us to A Masqued Ball – an ugly and poignant dance which I hope makes you feel uneasy. It evolves into a sarcastic waltz where we can hear some citations to one of my favorite works: C. Saint-Saëns’s Danse Macabre. Death is now all around us, but the English Horn solo comes back trying to convince us that all has passed, and we are safe.

Short and filled with an energetic outburst, the last section Finale? reminds us that the pandemic is still far from being over.  All previous musical ideas and themes are now combined with Dominican folkloric rhythms that bring out new Latin colors which are further enhanced using exotic instruments like the African Drums and the Güira de Metal (Steel Guiro).

I hope you enjoy this work. I wish every one of you the very best during the ongoing pandemic! DrwAq