Corrections or additions?
This article by Nicole Plett was prepared for the October 3, 2001
of U.S. 1 Newspaper. All rights reserved.
At Patriots Theater, a Salute to the American
When an arts organization embarks on its 80th
season, it signals quality, continuity, and community support. This
month’s celebratory opening of the Greater Trenton Symphony
80th season was altered, but by no means eradicated, by the terrorist
action of September 11. "Salute to the American Spirit" is
the newly-titled, newly-programed concert that will launch the GTSO
season, Saturday, October 6, at 8 p.m., at the aptly named Patriots
Theater of the Trenton War Memorial.
Reaching out to the community that has long supported the symphony,
GTSO’s concert is free to all. Donations will be accepted for the
American Red Cross Liberty Fund. The program originally scheduled
for the celebratory opening concert, featuring piano soloist Marion
Zarzeczna, is re-scheduled for Sunday, March 10, 2002.
"Salute to the American Spirit" will feature Morton Gould’s
"American Salute," Michael Sammes’ "For the Fallen,"
Samuel Barber’s "Adagio for Strings,"Samuel Barber’s
for Strings," Jean Sibelius’ "Finlandia," Antonin Dvorak’s
"Largo" from the "New World Symphony," and Beethoven’s
Overture to "Fidelio." Also John Philip Sousa’s
Post March," and Irving Berlin’s "God Bless America."
"There was no question in our minds when this tragedy unfolded
that we had to help," says Carol Kish, president of GTSO.
has always been recognized as a powerful healer and motivator in times
of trouble. We therefore have changed our opening concert program
to salute the American spirit. We invite everyone to join us in
our heroes and helping with this important cause."
Founded in 1921, GTSO gave its inaugural performance at the Crescent
Temple Auditorium in March, 1922, with 39 musicians performing under
the baton of founding director Gustav Hagedorn. The state’s oldest
professional orchestra, it is credited with introducing the experience
of live orchestral music to generations of New Jersey audiences
in the hundreds of thousands. His daughter Elizabeth Hagedorn, will
attend the opening concert.
GTSO has performed with some 20th-century music luminaries that
opera singers Kirsten Flagstad, Lauritz Melchior, Eleanor Steber,
and Placido Domingo. Pianists Gary Graffman and Ruth Laredo have
with the group, as has composer and conductor Maurice Durufle.
In 1932, GTSO moved to the newly-opened, 1,800-seat Trenton War
where the orchestra performed for the next six decades. Closed for
a five-year period of renovations in 1994, GTSO made its triumphal
return to the War Memorial in December 1998, led by executive director
John Peter Holly, with a series of special preview concerts —
including one for the building industry laborers and their families
— and played a Rededication Concert in March, 1999. In the fall
of that year, GTSO also presented a Gala Opening Concert at Trenton’s
new, 10,000-seat Sovereign Bank Arena.
Fernando Raucci, an Italian conductor appointed to conduct GTSO’s
anniversary season, says the decision to remake the concert came from
the executive committee, and it was one he was enthusiastic to
He and Holly will share conducting duties during the nine-concert
anniversary season with a Chamber Music series at Trenton’s Trinity
Cathedral beginning November 4. "We consider this a patriot
but it’s not a July 4 concert. The choice of the program is both
and as a memorial," he says.
An Italian native beginning his fifth year in the U.S.,
Raucci was as shaken as anyone by the terrorist action. "I
think the attack that occurred on September 11 in this country was
an offense to the entire world," he says. "I feel involved
as an Italian, as a European, and as a conductor here in America.
It was an attack against democracy, against the entire world."
Raucci says the concert program is designed to offer a moment to allow
each individual human being see inside themselves and reflect on the
value, and the triumphs, of human life.
"As an artist, I cannot see a world without art. The world would
have no reason to continue without it. All art moves the feelings
of people. Imagine a world without Da Vinci’s `La Giaconda,’ without
Picasso’s innovation, Beethoven’s Ninth Symphony, or the music of
Raucci and Holly pooled their ideas for the new program which Raucci
describes as "a mix of patriotic music and reflective music about
the tragedy." Among the program choices, Raucci says that the
"New World Symphony" by Czech composer Antonin Dvorak came
immediately to mind. "The symphony was dedicated to this county,
and as a European composer who came abroad in the last century, the
message it sends to the audience is one of new hope for this country
— to remember the tragedy and also to move on."
Raucci, 33, is a native of Iserna, a city not far from Princeton’s
smaller sister city, Pettoranello, about 60 miles north of Naples.
In 1995 Raucci was invited to represent Pettoranello in a performance
with the Greater Princeton Youth Orchestra and hosted GPYO on its
Italian tour the following year. In 1996 he came back to the U.S.,
appearing as a guest conductor with GTSO and also working with Opera
International. He completed his master’s degree in conducting at the
University of Hartford in 1999.
He and Holly never doubted the orchestra’s ability to prepare a
new program at short notice. "We were not worried," says
"because the orchestra is a major professional ensemble and our
program choices come from the standard repertory."
Another programing choice is Samuel Barber’s "Adagio for
well known both here and in Europe, which Raucci believes will also
create a feeling of a moment of reflection for the audience. It was
composed by American composer Barber, a graduate of the Curtis
in Philadelphia, in 1937, another period of international anxiety.
"The adagio is from a transcription of a quartet for string
says Raucci. "It’s really calm, intimate music, and absolutely
beautiful." He adds that many may recognize it from its use in
the soundtrack for the movies "Elephant Man" and
As music director of the Greater Princeton Youth Orchestra, Raucci
is also helping that group celebrate its 40th anniversary season.
"I’m honored to have important years with both orchestras,"
he says. "I don’t understand why me, but I’m glad about it.
"I feel especially honored, as an Italian and as a European, to
be able to participate in something that is defining human history.
One day I will be able to say, `Yes, I was there, I was conducting,
I was doing my part for the tragedy.’ That is the beauty of the art
of music. We don’t have any borders."
— Nicole Plett
Orchestra, Patriots Theater at the War Memorial, Trenton,
Website: www.trentonsymphony.org. Donations will be accepted
for the American Red Cross Liberty Fund. For free tickets, which are
required, call or stop by the War Memorial box office.
October 6, 8 p.m.
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