William Shakespeare’s “The Tempest” will take center stage this week at York's Strand-Capitol, but this time, his work will go beyond the realm of classical music.
The York Symphony Orchestra will be teaming up with Shakespearian actor, Jack Hartman and an award winning pianist, 25-year-old Haochen Zhang, for the upcoming show A Stormy Night on Jan. 23. Directed by Lawrence Golan, the YSO will deliver music scenes from the playwright’s “The Tempest” in between Hartman’s on stage performances, which will be accompanied by selections from Tchaikovsky, Sibelius, Paine and Liszt music for the classic tale.
“This is a unique opportunity to see one of the greatest pianists in the world, hear some very famous classical music and watch scenes played out by Shakespearean actor,” Golan said. "The combination of these things is going to give the evening quite a bit of variety.”
The YSO will perform four pieces total —— three being musical depictions of “The Tempest” and one piano concerto that is stormy in character. The first piece is by Tchaikovsky, the second one is by Jean Sibelius, and the final piece on the program is by John Knowles Paine. Zhang, who is a featured artist, will also perform a fourth tempestuous themed piece, Liszt Piano Concerto No. 1.
“Haochen Zhang brings excellence to the performance,” Golan said. “It’s not that his interpretation of the music is going to be uniquely different from anyone else, it is simply the sheer quality is at the absolute top and I think it’s exciting for York to be able to see, hear and meet someone of that caliber.”
The orchestra will perform the selected movements and then will pause to allow Hartman to deliver the multi-faced dialogue and action of the corresponding scene. The program will include a few of play’s most prominent scenes, including a scene with Prospero and his spirit, a drunken scene that is a little more rowdy, and of course, a final scene where Prospero talks to his adult daughter about how escaping the island and how he has prepared to get his vengeance against his brother who overthrew him.
“It’s set in a remote island where Prospero the duke of Milan has escaped and become a sorcerer," explains Hartman, Shakespearean actor. “There he plots to create this storm to lure and wreck the ship of his betraying brother, king of Naples who ousted him so he can reclaim his place as duke of Milan and bring his daughter back with him to Milan. To do that, he uses a spirit who once worked with a powerful witch Sycorax, who once worked on the island to help him. Through their combined powers, they are able to bring the ship to shore, expose his brother, and regain his position.”
The Shakespeare story and show setting is an opportunity for people to see two very different art forms intermingle on a single stage.
“The music will be very rousing," Hartman said. "It’s excellent music and Lawrence has done a great job with the orchestra. What I hope to do is give the audience an understanding of Shakespeare’s language and characterizations depicted and to portray them, bigger than life so that the audience sees in the context of music and what these characters are doing in the play.”
The Tempest piece originally premiered in 1873, composed by Tchaikovsky more than 200 years after Shakespeare’s death in 1616, eventually became one of the composer’s best-known productions.
“The Tempest” is a great piece that everyone will love,” Golan said. "I can guarantee everyone that will hear it in the hall will probably be thinking 'Wow, I cant believe I’ve never heard this before,' but its just one of those things, popularity and quality are absolutely not linked. I hate to say it but it’s just a fact.”
Overall, the concert promises to offer something different for every audience member.
“We’re just trying to present an opportunity for people to see classical music in a different way,” Golan said. “We want people to come for the first time and see what we are doing and see what great classical music is all about.”
Lawrence Golan, Director & Conductor
Tchaikovsky: The Tempest, Fantasy-Overture, Op. 18
Sibelius: The Tempest, Suite No. 1
Paine: The Tempest, Op. 31
Liszt: Piano Concerto No. 1; Haochen Zhang on piano- Gold Medal Winner of the Van Cliburn International Piano Competition
See them live
Who: York Symphony Orchestra presents “A Stormy Night”
When: 7:30 p.m. Saturday, Jan. 23
Where: Strand-Capitol Performing Arts Center, 50 N. George St. York
Cost: $9, $33 and $39 general; $5 students