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Forte: YSO taps the talents of Mozart and Mendelssohn

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Lawrence Golan conducting the Yakima Symphony Orchestra at the Cave B Summer Music Theatre, June 25, 2017. (Photo by Gary Miller

YAKIMA, Wash. -- On Sunday evening, the Yakima Symphony Orchestra will perform the third and final concert of the inaugural Sunday Summer Symphonies series at the Cave B Summer Music Theatre, featuring music by two composers who were arguably the most naturally talented among the giants of symphonic literature: Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart and Felix Mendelssohn.

Mozart and Mendelssohn were child prodigies, dazzling even the most jaded audiences with their astonishing virtuosity and uncanny improvisational skills at the keyboard, and they showed remarkable maturity as composers from a very early age. They died young, before age 40, and each work on this program was written as its composer was at the height of his creative powers.

Of Mozart’s 41 symphonies, the last three are collectively the most famous; but the 35th manifests all the grace, elegance and gleeful sense of mischief for which Mozart’s music is perhaps best loved. Having originally composed a lighthearted serenade as “party music” for a provincial public celebration in honor of childhood friend Sigmund Haffner, the young composer subsequently transformed the work into a brilliant symphonic showpiece suitable for the more sophisticated stages of Vienna, the musical capital of Europe at the time.

Two generations later, the German composer Mendelssohn had been enchanted by the romanticism of Scotland long before his first journey there in 1829, when a visit to Holyrood Palace in Edinburgh inspired the opening measures of his “Scottish Symphony.”

It took another 13 years, however, for him to fully flesh out what would be his final work in symphonic form. Without ever explicitly invoking Scottish folk music, Mendelssohn paints a compelling portrait of the country — from the brooding gloom of the opening through merriment and prayer in the internal movements to the bellicose finale, closing with a jubilant hymn — making this program a fitting preview to YSO’s upcoming season, “A Musical Voyage Around the World.”

• David Rogers is executive director of the Yakima Symphony Orchestra. Email him at or call 509-248-1414.

If you go

WHAT: Summer Sunday Symphonies with the Yakima Symphony Orchestra with Lawrence Golan, conductor. “Pure Genius: Mozart & Mendelssohn,” with Mozart Symphony No. 35 (“Haffner”) and Mendelssohn Symphony No. 3 (“Scottish”).

WHEN: 7:30 p.m. Sunday.

WHERE:The Cave B Summer Music Theatre, 348 Silica Road NW, Quincy.

COST: $10 students/children, $25 adults; call 509-248-1414 or visit

MORE INFORMATION: Yakima Symphony Orchestra:; Cave B Summer Music Theatre (food, wine, accommodations):; Yakima Symphony Patron Bus (roundtrip between Yakima and the Cave B Summer Music Theatre): $20; reservations required by calling 509-248-1414.

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