Canadian composer John Estacio had a startling experience when he moved to the city of Edmonton. It was “the first time ever I experienced the glorious spectacle of the Aurora Borealis. Up until that moment I had to settle for textbook explanations and a geography teacher’s descriptions. I had no idea what I was seeing when I first noticed the majestic curtains of swirling green light in the sky one crisp October evening until a friend confirmed that it was indeed the Northern Lights. I was completely captivated and awestruck by the magical sight of dancing light.” The result was his orchestral work Borealis, first performed in Edmonton in 1997 and since repeated across Canada.
Last year, the Hudson Valley Philharmonic (HVP) presented Holst’s popular The Planets with projected imagery by José Francisco Salgado, an Emmy-nominated astronomer, experimental photographer, visual artist and public speaker who creates multimedia works that communicate science in engaging ways. Salgado “collaborates with orchestras, composers and musicians to present films that provoke curiosity and a sense of wonder about the Earth and the universe,” which he has done in more than 115 concerts in 50 cities around the world. The collaboration of Estacio and Salgado is certain to be a highlight of the Hudson Valley Philharmonic’s concert on March 19, directed by Randall Craig Fleischer.
The concert includes another recent composition: Jennifer Higdon’s blue cathedral, written as a memorial to her brother. This will be Higdon’s second performance by the HVP of a work that has been performed by more than 400 orchestras since its premiere in 2000.
Traditional repertoire will not be ignored in this performance, though. The concert opens with Igor Stravinsky’s Pulcinella Suite, music that Stravinsky based on Baroque compositions by Giovanni Pergolesi and others of his time. Creation of this work led to Stravinsky’s “neoclassical” (actually neo-Baroque) style, which became very influential during the period between the World Wars. And the concert concludes with Brahms’s joyous Second Symphony, which seems to be largely the composer’s expression of relief after the long and difficult creation of his First Symphony over a decade-and-a-half. Brahms knocked off the whole Second Symphony in one summer.
Hudson Valley Philharmonic, Saturday, March 19, 8 p.m., $34/56 ($20 student rush), Bardavon 1869 Opera House, 35 Market Street, Poughkeepsie; (845) 473-2072, www.bardavon.org.