Dr. Matthew Aubin split last season the Jackson Symphony Orchestra with outgoing director Stephen Osmond. This year, however, it’s all him. WKAR’s Jamie Paisley spoke with Aubin about Saturday night’s season-opener at Jackson’s Potter Center, which starts with a toe-tapper by Leonard Bernstein.
"Yes. Let’s kick-off the season with a smile, you know?" says Aubin about the Leonard Bernstein piece opening the JSO's 2017-18 season. "And I think that's what the Overture to Candide does. You know, I really like to explore a theme and I read a little nugget that said Voltaire, when he wrote Candide, was inspired by the '1001 Nights.'"
And to continue that a thousand and one nights theme, Aubin chose arguably, Nikolai Rimsky-Korsakov’s best known work, Scheherazade for the Jackson Symphony.
"I'm somebody that probably fell in love with classical music thinking that classical music was John Williams' STAR WARS, and SUPERMAN," recalls Aubin. "and it is to some degree! But I've come to composers like Schumann or even Bach, for that matter, much later in my development. So there's a certain nostalgia. I just love that [Scheherazade is] unabashedly romantic. But that aside, I'll tell you what. It is really cool to see how he uses the orchestra. I mean, every passage, like, you know, I'm studying this one spot where the horn plays [sings], and the horn is playing the first statement. The flute is responding. The horn plays the next statement, the oboe's responding. The horn plays it again, the clarinet responds. And the way there's, in a way, a system in place, but yet it's different every time, to me, it's really cool 'cause I can just see him doing it."
But rounding out the Jackson Symphony’s first concert of the season is music just a decade old. The Violin Concerto “1001 Nights in the Harem” by Turkish composer and erstwhile concert pianist Fazil Say.
"The sounds that he gets from the orchestra are more new sounds. You have Turkish percussion instruments being played. So that's really, really great." Aubin continues, "You have some effects that are asked for in the violin. So, at one point, the violinist, like, just knocks percussively on his instrument a little bit, like really softly. He's asked to make a flute sound on the violin, plays with these birdlike harmonic sounds. But that's all in the context of very melodic music, very rhythmic music. You know, the rhythm in the Violin Concerto is really similar to, in some ways, pop music, or music that's build upon minimalist music where we're starting with a layer. We're adding another layer and we hear the differences because a new layer has been added each time."
And though Saturday’s Concert at the Potter Center signals the start of Aubin’s first full season with the Jackson Symphony, he’s already making his mark digitally by way of a greatly revitalized website at JacksonSymphony.org, which includes video concert introductions and integrated Spotify playlists.
"We recognize that to attract newer audience members and maybe people that don't know a lot about classical music," says Aubin, "we really need to provide some content for them and give them some context for what they're going to experience."
More info about Saturday’s 1001 Nights concert with the Jackson Symphony and Dr. Matthew Aubin can be found online at JacksonSymphony.org