This weekend Marsh Symphony on the Prairie, a yearly concert series that has taken place for nearly twenty-nine years, returns to its roots. Held on weekends throughout the breezy and balmy evenings of Indiana’s summer on the lawn of The Conner Prairie Living History Museum, the core of performers is drawn from Indianapolis’s world class Symphony Orchestra and it serves as a central attraction of Indiana’s cultural summer calendar.
Over the years its offerings have alternated between culturally edifying events and effervescent winks at nostalgia. In recent years though the programming has skewed heavily toward pop interpretations and reimagining’s of Jazz, Rock and Country standards. This year for example programs still to be featured include, Classical Mystery Tour, which is an orchestrally augmented tribute to The Beatles (Aug.11th 12th and 13th) and Leann Womack’s Prairie Debut, featuring country superstar Leann Womack (August 26th and 27th)
Although non-classical presentations currently dominate the Symphony on the Prairie calendar there was a time when the ratios were reversed, when each weekend saw an enticing move between the glories of history. From Vivaldi to Beethoven, from Dvorak to Gershwin, the great composers once numerously populated those groundling summer evenings among cricket chirps and dinner on blankets in the grass.
Chances are the more modern programs drive ticket sales more reliably than classical ones. An orchestral re-arrangement of Lennon and McCartney’s oeuvre probably has more drawing power than Dvorak’s New World Symphony. But, to the Symphony on the Prairie programmers’ credit, they have not completely abandoned the masters. This weekend finds the orchestra primed and ready for a program featuring Mozart, the rococo prodigy whose emotional range and lithe thematic precision can easily turn any warm night in Fishers, IN into a gala Evening in Olde Vienna.
The program will feature internationally renowned conductor Eugene Tzigane and 2010 American Pianists Association Christel DeHaan Classical Fellow, Grace Fong, presenting Mozart’s Piano Concerto No.9 in E Flat K. 271. The K stands for Köchel, for Ludwig von Köchel who posthumously catalogued Mozart’s works. Meaning this concerto was the composer’s 271st composition. The Orchestra will also perform Johann Strauss Jr.’s ebullient overture to his 1874 Operetta Die Fladermaus. It is a piece that has melodic themes you’ll recognize immediately from cartoons and movies and smile all night from the associations.
Performances are at 8:00 p.m. Friday and Saturday, the 29th and 30th of July. Adult tickets are twenty-two dollars and can be purchased through the ISO website here.