Couples who are members of the Siskiyou Singers celebrate the 'Loving Waltzes' by Johannes Brahms, which are part of their concert 'The Ardent Suitor.' - Photo by John Kirk

'The Ardent Suitor'

The dynamic mix of vigor and tenderness that is the music of Brahms will be the focus when the Siskiyou Singers presents "The Ardent Suitor: Johannes Brahms' Folksongs, Gypsy Songs and Lovesong Waltzes."

The concerts will take place at 8 p.m. Saturday, Nov. 22, and 4 p.m. Sunday, Nov. 23. Performances will be at the Music Recital Hall of Southern Oregon University, 1250 Siskiyou Blvd., Ashland.

Artistic director Dave Marston will conduct the choir of 130 singers from around the Rogue Valley. Accompanying the choral ensemble will be pianists Joseph Yungen and Ashley Hoe. Both study with Alexander Tutunov of the music faculty at SOU.

Brahms' "Folksongs" were based on existing melodies — music of the people, both urban and rural, and were very popular. In his teens, Brahms began collecting these tunes and they influenced many of his later, more formal works as well.

In a press release Marston observed that the 19th century was a great time of nationalism in music, and Brahms was in the forefront of this trend, expressing through music his country's culture and traditions. A new English edition is used in this concert, with translations that are either literal or close to the spirit of the original German.

"These songs are quite beautiful," noted Marston, "and anyone with a romantic heart will be attracted to them."

The "Gypsy Songs" were among the many melodies Brahms became familiar with when, as a teenager, he was the piano accompanist for Remenyi, the popular Hungarian violinist. Together they toured most of Europe.

Later Brahms would become famous for his "Hungarian Dances" and for the "Gypsy Songs," which were published in 1889 and immediately became extremely popular. Five of the Gypsy songs will be presented in this concert.

The "Lovesong Waltzes" reflect the spirit of Vienna, where the composer spent much of his adult life. These songs have continued to be among the most-loved Brahms' works. He greatly admired the music of his friend Johann Strauss and borrowed Strauss' style in composing his own waltzes. The texts he selected came from a collection of translations and imitations of folk poems, chiefly Polish, Russian and Magyar, expressing the pain and the rapture of love.

Tickets are $12 in advance and $14 at the door, and $5 for youth 18 and under. Tickets are available at Paddington Station, Tree House Books and the Music Coop, Ashland, and Grocery Outlet, Medford.

See siskiyousingers.org, or call 482-5290.

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