Shakespeare’s story of romance and family rivalry was brought to Festival Concert Hall on Jan. 23 and 24 through the Fargo-Moorhead Symphony Orchestra.
This year, the Fargo-Moorhead community is celebrating Shakespeare for the Winter Arts Festival. A part of ShakespeareFest, the FMSO decided to host a “Romeo & Juliet” themed program. Featuring music from Tchaikovsky, Prokofiev and Bernstein’s “West Side Story,” as well as local talent Daniel Breedon, the program was bound to be spectacular.
As the night began, the Challey Atrium at Festival Concert Hall was filled with the light conversation of patrons. The lines were long and champagne was poured.
Not only was the music fantastic, but the FMSO also teamed up with local Theatre B to infuse the event with cuts from the actual play. Accompanying each major scene was an orchestral suite from Prokofiev. The music created an emotional atmosphere to fully experience the play theatrically and musically.
After one master came another. Following Prokofiev was Tchaikovsky’s “Romeo & Juliet Overture – Fantasy.” Haunting strings, reverberating brass and even a melodic harp captured not only the dangers of Romeo and Juliet’s relationship but also their love.
The intermission provided a break from sitting and also from the musicians of the past.
The second act featured Daniel Breedon, a composer from Concordia College, and his piece “Heart’s Ease,” which was specifically commissioned for the FMSO. His dramatic piece, never before heard, premiered on Saturday night. Inspired by a drinking song directly mentioned in “Romeo and Juliet,” “Heart’s Ease” focuses on Romeo’s longing for Juliet after her death.
The song was not about sadness but about Romeo and Juliet’s tumultuous relationship. Breedon’s number climaxed and was immediately followed by a pause, allowing the audience to grasp the emotion of the piece as the music dissipated throughout the hall.
Finally, the last number of the night was a compilation of the symphonic dances from “West Side Story.” This ended the night with a raucous and modern version of Shakespeare’s classic tale.
Light and cheerful (and scattered with snaps, whistles and the cheery shouts of “Mambo!” from the orchestra) it shook up the auditorium enough for laughter and overall joy. In true Shakespeare fashion, the joy eventually transitioned into a beautiful finale capturing the sadness, and love, that has enraptured many hearts throughout centuries.