The Santa Rosa Symphony presents ‘Poetic Bells’ this Saturday, Sunday, and Monday – with a program that was inspired by the works of Edgar Allan Poe. Music Director Bruno Ferrandis says they’ll be joined by the Sonoma State University Symphonic Chorus and soloists for the choral symphony The Bells by Sergei Rachmaninoff.
There’s more information about the concerts at the Santa Rosa Symphony website.
It wasn’t a work that Ferrandis was familiar with, but he wanted to build the concerts around a choral work: “So I met Jeffrey Kahane to have a cup of coffee, and I told him, you know, Jeffrey, I’m looking for an oratorio, I’m looking in the moderns, they are too difficult and the forces are too big. He said to me, ‘Why don’t you do The Bells?’ When I heard the piece, I was flabbergasted. It was such an incredibly emotional whooshing piece, you know, with shadows, and talking about death with the poems of Edgar Allan Poe.” (It was written originally with a Russian loose translation of the poem; they’ll be performing it in English, translated back to fit Rachmaninoff’s phrasing.) Using Poe as a starting point, he looked for other works that would complement the Rachmaninoff. Poe, who was ‘father of the detective story’ was also a fan of codes and cryptography, so Elgar’s Enigma Variations made a nice match. And he remembered that composer Augusta Read Howard had once based an opera on the Poe story ‘The Tomb of Ligeia,’ and another of her shorter orchestral works was called Prayer Bells, which will start the program.